Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
Reflections on My Grandfather’s Life: Joel Joseph
My grandfather, Joel Joseph, started to read the New York Times from cover to cover when he was 10 years old. Over the next 70 years, he tracked the Allied Forces’ progress during World War II, the increasing tensions of the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the assassinations of JFK and MLK, the influential Supreme Court decisions, the space race, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, Watergate, middle east politics, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps most importantly, the ebbs and flows of the New York Mets.
He often marveled aloud about how the Times did it, putting together so many articles from so many different places, putting together a masterpiece every single day. He couldn’t believe that one company could write it every day; I still can’t believe that one person read it every single day.
My grandfather’s love of the Times extended to the crossword puzzle, at which he was a menacing force. He could recount any piece of information, relevant or not, and place this information in between the black bubbles in the crossword puzzle. One of his favorites was the clue about the battle following the invasion of Normandy, the battle at St. Lo, spelled with the odd sequence S-T-L-O.
Through his reading, he preached the importance of understanding the world around us, not just here in the United States, but around the world. He saw being informed as a central responsibility of citizenship and he was a model citizen, running for and holding public office, advocating for just causes, volunteering and serving as a judge.
Upon retiring from his position as a New York State Workers Compensation judge in Long Island, my grandparents moved to Maplewood, New Jersey. Here he would happily read his precious New York Times all day long, the paper sprawled in all corners of their apartment, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. But he also found time to volunteer and his favorite activity was to read the newspaper aloud to the visually impaired for EIES, Electronic Information Exchange System. EIES gave him the priceless opportunity to share his passion for the news with people who otherwise couldn’t access it.
My grandfather passed away on June 14, suffering a heart attack while driving to EIES to read the newspaper aloud. Had he survived, he clearly would have read with great interest about the recent Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action, voting rights and same sex marriage, the global cat and mouse game of Edward Snowden and been saddened by the decline in Nelson Mandela’s health.
When my grandfather died, there was no question about whether to put an obituary in the Times: JOSEPH- Joel H. June 11, 1933 to June 14, 2013. Yale 1955, Mayor, Administrative Law Judge, beloved husband of Phyllis, Father of Michael and Debbie, Jonathan and Liba, Adam and Susan, Brother of Linda. Grandfather of 9.
Louis Mackler Krabam, 17, high school senior