Cover photo for Joseph Zwinak's Obituary
1930 Joseph 2023

Joseph Zwinak

December 17, 1930 — June 5, 2023

Joseph “Joe” passed peacefully at home on June 5, 2023. Joe was born on December 17, 1930, in Scranton, PA then moved to Newark, NJ where he attended Southside High School. He then studied Chemical Engineering at The International Correspondence School. He worked for Pequannock Rubber Company in their Research and Development department, and there met his soon-to-be-wife, Helen Graham. Joe and Helen recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. 

When Pequannock company burned and closed, Joe went to work for Raybestos-Manhattan Rubber Company, and worked his way up in the same company to Director of Technical Services for Metso-Valmet (formerly Raybestos-Manhattan, Beloit Manhattan and Beloit Corporation), in Clarks Summit, PA, which produced coverings for huge roller equipment in the paper industry. In this position, he traveled worldwide, including Japan, South Africa and Europe, to name a few.  He retired in 1996 after 36 years with Metso. Joe and Helen have stayed in touch with many of the wonderful friends they met during this time.

Joe and Helen and their family lived in Riverdale NJ, Huntington and Trumbull CT, Clarks Green, PA, Las Vegas NV and now Aurora CO, and are grateful for the wonderful friends they made in all these locations. 

Joe loved music, especially the the Boston Pops Orchestra, country music and Drum Corp Competition. He was handy with tools and any kind of repairs. He enjoyed doing handyman tasks for his children, family, friends and where he volunteered. He relaxed by playing the electric organ. He loved to ski and enjoyed this sport until he was 80, trying ski biking at that age. He liked to hike and take long walks (he and Helen walked 4 miles a day when they lived in Las Vegas). Joe loved playing golf, especially with his son, Mark. They played all over the USA, including Hawaii. When Joe was young, he enjoyed playing baseball, biking and boating—he had an 18’ mahogany Chris Craft boat but sold it when Beth was born. Joe also loved dogs, and had two amazing pets in his life—Boots (a Boston Terrier, when he was a child) and Fluffy (a Border Collie, when he was an adult and his children were young). In later years, Joe and Helen enjoyed traveling to see herding competitions. 

In retirement, Joe and Helen traveled extensively around the USA and the world, visiting Singapore, China, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, France, Italy, Greece, and many other countries. They took frequent road trips to many national parks, visited all 50 states and traveled to see family and friends country-wide.  They and Amanda/Mark, Beth/Brian enjoyed cruise vacations together to Hawaii, Alaska, the Panama Canal, the Bahamas, Colombia, Aruba and Costa Rica. They also traveled together to many ski resort destinations; Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta;  Indian Lakes cottage;  Drum & Bugle Corp competitions and went sightseeing in many cities such as Boston, Indianapolis, Albany, Denver and Las Vegas. 

Joe was predeceased by his beloved parents, Joseph and Mary; brother-in-laws Frank and Joe; sister-in-laws Theresa and Florence; son-in-law Mel; nephews Frank, Pat and Billy….Survived by wife Helen; daughter Beth (Brian); son Mark (Amanda); sister Rita (Tom); nephews Tom (Kathy), and Mike (Chris); grandnieces Brooke and Melissa (Brandon); great-grandnephew Theo. And other beloved nieces and nephews--Jeanne (Ron), John (Kelly), Joe (Jennifer), Mike,  Kathie (Shawn), Jim (Marie), Shannon (Ken), Cathy (Jeff); and many beloved grandnieces and grandnephews in NY, CO, FL, CA, TN, PA, NJ; Joe's best friend Bill; and many close friends in PA, Las Vegas, Colorado and other states. He was “Grandpa Joe” to Brian’s relatives David, Maggie and Robby too, and “Pops” to Beth’s dear friend Shelley. 

For the past two years, Joe still enjoyed his music, watching special programs on his huge TV screen, playing Scrabble or “Fill or Bust” card games with Pedro and Helen every day; "High Tea" at the Condo with Brian’s relatives Kathy, Dennis & David, friends Michelle & Jack, and Amanda and Mark;  picnics on the lawn with Chris, Kassia, Michalina, Jeanne & Ron; Happy Hours with Shelley and Jamie; pizza nights; "Game Days" with Michelle & Jack, Rose & Jim; Birthday Zoom calls with Rita, Tom, Tom, Kathy, Mike, Chris, Brooke, Melissa, Brandon & Theo and Jolan, and Amanda, Mark, Barb, Eve, Brian, Little Bill, Jake and Nick; and other special visits and time with family and friends. Thank you to all of those that stopped by or called or otherwise stayed in touch.

During this time, too, Joe loved to eat! He enjoyed going to the Men’s Breakfast at Rosie’s Diner with the guys in Building 242. He especially enjoyed donuts or bagels and coffee, Rueben sandwiches, corned beef hash and other surprise snack deliveries by Brian, and long distance culinary treats from Amanda and Mark.  

Joe was a member of St. Michael the Archangel parish in Aurora, CO, and attended mass as regularly as possible via the Heather Gardens branch of this church community. 

Joe and Helen volunteered extensively in retirement. They were Volunteers of the Year in 2014 for Opportunity Village, Las Vegas’s favorite charity, which provides free training, enrichment and employment to those with developmental disabilities. They volunteered tirelessly for many years for this organization, at times with Rita & Tom, and friends Ellie, Conni, and Liz & Larry.  They also volunteered for its partner group, Best Buddies, and at the Super Summer Theatre, a non-profit dedicated to educational and charitable purposes that promotes the use of Nevada State Parks for affordable, family-oriented cultural activites. 

When Joe and Helen moved to Heather Gardens active senior community in Aurora in 2016, Helen took up volunteering again—baking and donating hundreds of dozens of cookies for a homeless meal program (coordinated by their dear friend Susan, who also created a one-of-a-kind, beautiful tapestry quilt made from Joe’s neckties). Joe also took up volunteering again, by sampling and performing Quality Control for every batch of cookies that Helen baked for this group… 

Joe’s family is forever grateful to all their friends and neighbors in Building 242, the Heather Gardens Caregivers Support Group, friends at Tagawa Gardens, Dr. Joel, RN Gretchen, caregiver Bessy, and all their family and friends across the county for their love and support.

Special gratitude to CNA Pedro, Joe’s amazing and inspirational caregiver during the last years of Joe's life. Pedro was the reason Joe was able to stay comfortably at home since 2021, when Joe began needing full time assistance and every day care. Pedro stayed by his side nearly every day since then, and was with Joe and his family as Joe peacefully went to heaven. 


A Celebration of Life service is to be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Joe may be made to Opportunity Village  or your own favorite charity.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph Zwinak, please visit our flower store.


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