On the afternoon of December 24, 2014 at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick Campus, Joseph “Joe” Barczyk, 81, left this world peacefully in his sleep with a smile on his face. Losing his beloved wife Jayne just two months prior was too much for his heart to bear. Family and friends have found some solace in knowing that Joe was finally reunited with Jayne for her favorite holiday, Christmas.
Joe was born February 18, 1933 in Pittsburgh, PA. He was the only child of first generation Polish Americans, Sophie and Joseph Barczyk. As a teenager the family moved to Erie, PA following work, where Joe started Junior High at Cathedral Prep. Joe’s father gave up a career as a magician to find more stable work as a dental lab technician while his mother worked as a cook and sublet rooms in their home to help pay for Joe’s education. Joe had fond memories of some of their boarders: everyone from minor league baseball players who gave the family game tickets to a crop duster who would tip the wings of his plane as he flew over Joe’s house.
Joe’s senior year in high school was a time of mixed blessings. His father died unexpectedly, but Joe had also just met his one true love, Jayne. Joe met Jayne while he worked weekends as an usher for semi-pro wrestling matches at his future Alma Matter, Gannon College. Jayne and a few of her friends from Villa Maria Academy, the private girl’s high school across town, loved watching the wrestling matches. Joe loved Jayne’s sparkling blue eyes and quick wit. Before long the girls had permanent free ring side seats and Joe and Jayne became a couple.
Even though Joe received an ROTC scholarship for Gannon College, his hard working widowed mother needed help paying bills so Joe took a series of odd jobs and did whatever he could to make a few dollars. Joe would shark at pool and pinball using sobriety to his advantage. Amazingly he still found time to spend with Jayne, riding his bike almost 12 miles to see her or occasionally borrowing his priest’s car to take her to college dances.
Joe graduated from Gannon with a degree in Accounting, but ended up choosing a career in the US Army for the job stability and most importantly to Joe and Jayne, an opportunity to see the world. Joe was commissioned on June 5, 1955 and married Jayne October 15th. Shortly after their marriage, Joe took a position with the 503rd Military Police Company deploying to Frankfort, Germany. He assisted the British and German Military Police with tactical and security operations. Joe was genuine people person with an innate sense of human psychology (possibly honed by sharking). Joe found that he loved working with the military police from other countries; embracing cultural similarities and culinary diversity with gusto.
That first assignment shaped his Army and subsequent careers. Joe was among the first 500 Americans deployed to Viet Nam in 1962 and served another year in Viet Nam in 1969. During the course of their marriage, Joe, Jayne, and their daughter Sue lived in Germany, Thailand, and several posts in the throughout United States.
Joe retired after 20 years in the Army and he began his next career in Civil Service. He spent the next 20 years employed by the Department of Transportation and then the Department of Energy. Utilizing his Military Police background Joe eventually became an Investigative Officer protecting our strategic oil reserves and guarding our nuclear infrastructure. Among the many hats he wore in that capacity his most beloved experiences involved investigating independent gas stations in the Bayou Country of Louisiana and training SWAT Team members on security practices.
After retiring from Civil Service, Joe and Jayne settled in Sebastian, FL. A beautiful waterfront town they discovered when Jayne suggested they follow a rainbow to its end. One look at the Indian River Lagoon and they realized they found their next home. Joe couldn’t sit still for long though, within six months he decided to run for and won a position on the Sebastian City Council. He served three terms, the last as Vice Mayor. During his terms Joe was a part of a very active Council in a fast growing community. Joe worked actively and tirelessly with his fellow Council members to redevelop the waterfront, expand business development, and build a new senior center, a new main city government building, new police station, and a Boys & Girls Club facility.
The couple moved to Kingsland in 2007 after Jayne was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer to be near state of the art medical facilities and to be closer to their daughter Susan. In 2012, both Joe and Jayne’s health took a turn for the worse. As a result, they chose to become residents of the Senior Care Center of St Marys. Being the active person he was Joe could not relax for long. He became involved as an advocate for his fellow residents and a friend to the nurses and staff. He would always take care of people by offering a broad shoulder or a piece of chocolate to anyone passing by his room. Many times Joe’s room became the scene of an impromptu get together as people stopped in to admire all the beautiful birds that would flock to his many feeders or to enjoy a good story.
Over the years Joe became member of the American Legion, VFW, and was active a member of Rotary International, in which he served as past president of the Rotary Club of Sebastian, FL and was named a Paul Harris Fellow. At the time of his death, he was an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Camden County where he had been an active member since his move to Kingsland in 2007.
Joe is survived by his daughter, Susan (Sean) Malphurs, many “adopted kids” that he grew to love at the Senior Care Center of St Marys, and of course his dog, Daisy.
A Memorial Mass will be held Friday, January 9, 2015 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 106 E. Dillingham St., St. Marys, GA, at 11 am. Interment to follow at 2 pm, at the Jacksonville National Cemetery, 4083 Lannie Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218.
In lieu of flowers, it was Joe’s desire that the Senior Care Center of St Marys (the former Convalescent Home) be remembered. Those wishing to make donations please mail a check to: SEGHS Foundation, PO Box 1518, Brunswick, GA 31521. In the note/memo section of the check, please write “Sr Care Ctr-St Marys / Joe Barczyk.”
Allison Memorial Chapel and Funeral Home of St. Marys is in charge of arrangements.