It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Joseph S. Veronikowski, to all who knew him, simply “Joe” (or “Lebeau”, which is a hilarious story if Joe ever shared with you how he acquired it!). Born in Springfield MA, January 29, 1947, to the late Joseph and Harriet (Gula) Veronikowski, Joe was a lifelong resident of Chicopee, matriculating through the local schools and graduating from Chicopee High School. Drafted into the US Army thereafter, Joe served his country in combat in Vietnam, a period he didn’t talk much about, but certainly formed a lasting foundation on how he addressed life and the relationships developed with many, many friends. Joe continued to support his Brother in Arms, joining Chicopee American Legion Post 452 and promoting its growth through his long service as a Director.
Following an Honorable Discharge, Joe entered the Construction Industry, honing carpentry skills first learned on many jobs through High School. Framing, roofing, house building, additions, and specialty Commercial construction and renovation were among skills at which Joe became a Master. Although the industry served him well, Joe decided to change careers as extensive job travel kept him away from his young family. Joe then trained and joined the Chicopee Fire Department, starting on the “lowest rung of the ladder”, earning an EMT Certification to work the ambulance, and enjoying cooking for and working with his Brothers at various city Stations, until an in service injury forced Joe to retire.
Aside from having a great time with friends and family, and depending on the season, Joe could be found on water or in the fields or woods. Fishing, whether on the Atlantic, but preferably on Lake Champlain or any lake/river/pond, was a first love. Joe couldn’t wait to get the boat season ready, and was bummed to retire it in the fall. Hunting wild turkey was a close 2nd. Along with beloved Springer Spaniel, “Charlie Brown”, Joe was just happy being outdoors pre-season scouting his turkey “sweet spots”, and in season, not always getting one, but just enjoying the chance. Probably 3rd on his list was playing cards. Pitch, in particular. We would often call him “Mr. 4 Bid”, and were ticked as to how many times he pulled it off!
To friends, family, and acquaintances, Joe was a cross between “the Cantankerous Wishbone” (if you’re old enough to remember the “Rawhide” TV show) and Mother Teresa. Joe could and would cuss you out mercilessly if you did something he determined contrary to his moral compass. The other hand, Joe would go way out of his way to help family and friends if they were down on their luck, or just plain in need. Aside from sharing his construction skills and accumulated knowledge, the best example of Joe’s compassion is Geno, a down on his luck friend that Joe brought into his home for near a decade, asking nothing in return. Either Joe version you encountered, often both at once, you just had to love him.
Joe leaves behind the love of his life, Nora (Sheehan) Veronikowski, wife of 49 years, a son Joseph Shawn Veronikowski of Chicopee, and a daughter Erin Quinney of Woodstock, CT, and three grandchildren, Austin, Emma, and Olivia. Joe also leaves behind an extensive family; sisters, Elaine Vdovjak and husband John of Thorndike, and Kathy Wendlowski of Hatfield, Nora’s brother and sisters, Thomas and Audrey Sheehan of Holyoke, Mary and Warren Haradon of Holyoke, Kathy and Tom Grady of Westfield, Annmarie and Dan Rogers of Nashua NH, and many, many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are asked to gather for a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday April 20th at 9:30am in the Blessed Sacrament Church, 1945 Northampton Street, Holyoke. Committal with Military Honors will follow at 11:00am in the Massachusetts Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, 1390 Main Street, Agawam. Masks and social distancing are required. The Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please support the Baystate Visiting Nurses Association, 30 Capital Drive, Suite A, West Springfield, MA 01089 and/or the American Heart Association, 54 Wayside Ave # C, West Springfield, MA 01089
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