On Monday, November 18th, 2019, Joe Lawrence Derkowski passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 88.
Joe was born on October 22, 1931, in Chappell Hill, Texas, to Tony and Rosie (Krusleski) Derkowski. He was raised on the family farm and loved going fishing with his Grandpa, also named Joe. He joined the Marine Corps in 1951, and went through boot camp in California alongside soon to be famous country singer, George Jones. He was stationed in El Toro until 1953, where he worked on the crash crew as a fireman.
During his tenure in the Marines, Joe met Charlotte "Ann" Heidemann on a blind date that her best friend convinced her to go on. A year and nine months later, they were married in Anaheim, California, at St. Boniface Catholic Church on November 14, 1953.
Joe worked at Disneyland when they opened in 1955 for eleven years. He would catch Tinkerbell when she came down the Matterhorn after starting the fireworks show above Disney Castle, and also worked on the It's a Small World ride. After Disneyland, Joe worked at St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, Texas, as a mechanical engineer for twenty-two years, and retired from there.
Joe loved to gamble, always anxious to get to the casinos, and was considered the king of slot machines. At home, he could often be found in the kitchen, whipping up his famous okra, meatloaf, and barbecue sauce, sometimes using ingredients he grew in his own garden. Whenever his grandkids came over to visit, he would always make a fresh pot of the spaghetti because they loved it so much.
Joe was always passionate about his family. His love for his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, as well as his faith in God, were the most important things in his life. Although it would be easy to see him as the strong and silent type, Joe was a jokester at heart. He had a nickname for everyone, from close family members to people he'd never even talked to, and had a few select catchphrases he liked to use. "See you in the funny papers, front page," "Both hands on the wheel," "Hold the flashlight where I can see it, not where you can see it," and "If you want soup, take a bowl," were just a few of his famous lines. And you never wanted him to catch you with the refrigerator door open.
Joe was preceded in death by his father, Tony, his mother, Rosie, his brothers, Mike, Frank, Tom, Charlie, and Steve, and his sisters, Florence and Barbara Ann. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ann, their five children, Larry and wife Beverly, Bill and wife Mary, Toni and late husband Jerry, Joey and wife Anita, and David and wife Mary, his brothers, Tony Jr. and Bruno, his sister, Maryann, eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A public visitation will be held on Thursday, November 21, 2019, at Hillier Funeral Home of BRYAN from 7 - 9 pm. A Rosary service will be held on Friday, November 22, 2019, at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Chappell Hill, Texas, at 1:30 pm, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 2:30pm. Graveside service and Final Military Honors will follow at St. Stanislaus Catholic Cemetery.
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