Joseph A. Jurkowski, age 89, of Ludington, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. He was born Sept. 30, 1930, in Newark, New Jersey, to Joseph and Alma (Hagel) Jurkowski.
After high school, Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served on the USS Taylor, a Fletcher-class destroyer, as well as the submarines Baya, Diodon and Spinax. He proudly served his country during the Korean War and Vietnam War, and also participated in Cold War patrols. During his 23-year service he was commissioned as an officer, retiring with the distinguished rank of commander.
Joseph’s second career was as a professor at West Shore Community College. He brought his sense of humor and spontaneity into the classroom where he was able to touch the lives of many students. He taught courses in ethics, business law, comparative religion, and his favorite, philosophy. He taught for nearly 30 years, retiring in 2002.
Joe had a lifelong love of learning and pursued many intellectual interests. During his naval service he began taking classes, leading to a bachelor’s degree in humanities and a master’s degree management. He was a brilliant man and was a member of MENSA, the International High IQ Society. He was an extra in Ham Radio (the highest license level) and a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
Most of all, Joe greatly valued the love of his family and friends. He was a compassionate, caring and devoted husband, father, grandfather and teacher. He cared deeply for his pets and all living creatures. He was a quiet man with a great sense of humor, at times surprising everyone with his quick wit. He enjoyed attending concerts, dancing and walking. He brought joy, fun and kindness everywhere he went. Through all his experiences and accomplishments, Joe remained humble and appreciative. He lived his life without judgment of others. He was always willing to help those in need without expecting anything in return.
Joe will be greatly missed by his beloved wife Jenice; his children Paul Jurkowski of California, and Adam (Christine) Jurkowski of Sault Ste. Marie; his stepchildren Micheal (Becky) Heckman of Ludington, Sean (Ashleigh) Heckman of Hart and Jenyl (Alex) Keeton of Gilberts, Illinois; his grandchildren Eric, Theodore, Cody, Riley, Moncerrad, Clayton, Jerra, Ember, Olivia, Aiden and Madeline; his brother John Dankowski; his family friends Maria Rosas and Nancy Kelley; and his extended family.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Eugene Vincent Allen. An outdoor memorial service will be held on Joe’s birthday, Sept. 30, 2020, at 3 p.m., at Trinity Evangelical Church in Ludington. Family will greet friends starting at 2 p.m. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Memorial contributions in Joe’s name may be directed to the Parkinson’s Foundation, American Legion Post No. 76, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners Hospitals for Children, PBS or NPR.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington, www.oakgroveludington.com.