Joseph Jr. died on December 29, 1993 after complications from an aneurysm that burst while he was on the operating table. During his fifteen days in Mather hospital, family members kept a constant vigil at his bedside praying that he would recover. Joe, knowing that his condition was progressively getting worse and recovery was impossible, requested an end to the life support systems that were keeping him alive.
His oldest son, Joseph III, on behalf of his brothers and sisters, delivered his father's eulogy at the burial in Calverton Cemetery on December 31, 1993.
Our Dad (Eulogy)
It may be commonplace to exaggerate the virtues of the deceased, but anyone who knew these men would know that my words alone can't do them justice.
I remember thinking after my grandfather died how sad it was that the world would be without him. But I consoled myself with the thought that what he taught through his way of life lived on.
There were so many stories. Like the immigrant, who had a wife and kids but little money, when he went to grandpa's appliance store for a refrigerator. Grandpa told him to take the refrigerator and pay when he had the money. This kind act must have had a profound effect on this man. I'm sure it must have influenced decisions that man made later in his life.
One day, when dad was in the hospital, I turned on the answering machine in his workshop. There was a message from a distraught woman, a stranger to me, who said, "I'm so sorry to hear that Mr. Jones is in the hospital. He's much too nice a man to be so sick. Please tell him to get well soon." She was on the verge of tears and it choked me up to think of how many others his absence would affect in this way.
This woman, and all of us who knew him, make daily decisions that are subconsciously influenced by dad. And these people are influencing all the people they have contact with -- and on and on, from generation to generation. In effect, thousands of people, many of whom will never know our dad walked the face of the earth, will be affected in a positive way because of him. This means that the spirit of his life never dies. It lives on in every kind and charitable act or decision we ever make.
Our dad never cared for fame or glory. His death will not be reported on the eleven o'clock news. Yet it is simple people like him, my deceased Uncle Joe Miller, my Aunt Justine and uncle Al Anzelon who are the true heroes of the world. They labor in quiet dignity their entire lives, never seeking reward or thinking of themselves -- only others.
If the human race were a flower, these people would be the bees who pollinate the flower with good and honorable traits, keeping our race from becoming too selfish and thoughtless.
Going through my father's papers yesterday, in search of his birth certificate, I came across an old report card from when he taught at Brooklyn Tech. On the back was a handwritten note that said, "Joe, you're a born teacher. I hope to see you back next semester." I thought to myself how right that was, but the writer didn't know the half of it. These past fifteen days have shown me how good a teacher he really was.
Dad was not famous, but he was successful, successful at achieving what was really important to him -- sharing his love with his wife, family, friends and the world as a whole. Despite the fact that our dad never achieved great fame, there is no one who could have made me prouder to have called "my dad."
Dad, we'll miss you but console ourselves with the fact that your spirit lives on.
We salute you, not with guns but with our hearts.