In lieu of flowers please either donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee County,
a favorite charity of your own, or best yet, volunteer your time to a cause you deem worthy.
Known as “Papa Joe” since the arrival of grandchildren, he entered eternal life on May 21st, 2020 at the age of 89. Joe is now reunited with his three siblings – LaVerne (Floyd) Cooper, William “Bill” (Janet) Ochalek, and Robert “Bob” (Jeanne) Ochalek – and is survived by sister-in law Janet (Bill) Ochalek, daughter Susan Berkoff and son Michael, grandchildren Alex and Bella Berkoff and Megan and Thomas Ochalek, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Born in Milwaukee on December 15, 1930, he was raised very near his grade school – his family lived upstairs of the auto garage his father ran – he loved the school grounds whether it was basketball, baseball, or the myriad of popular playground games.
Joe graduated with distinction from Rufus King High School in 1948, then went on to Marquette University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1952. He later worked at Allis Chalmers, Globe Union, BASO, Associated Spring, and Marquette Electronics. At MEI he was the corporate controller before moving to the role of international liaison, where he would travel to various overseas locations annually to help close the books; this was the start of his love of travel abroad.
He was a very active father: he was the “neighborhood dad” when Michael was a child, whether he was all-time pitcher in baseball, QB for football, or played the role of “ogre” for the handful of kids that would often congregate at his home in Glendale. He took Michael to a dozen or so Bucks games every year starting from when someone named Lew Alcindor joined the team; the two of them would get there early and be among fans that line the player’s walkway from the locker room to the court just to see the players close-up – a big thrill for a seven year-old boy!
Joe’s business travels to Europe resulted in many friendships, especially in Brussels, Paris, and London. After retiring, he made an annual pilgrimage per se to those three locations, often taking along a first-time visitor with whom he would share his favorite experiences: not only the museums and gardens, but crepes outside Notre Dame, fish ‘n chips at Clarence’s Pub, and Eton Mess at the Porcupine.
Papa Joe was never too busy to help out family or friends: he spent many hot sweaty days helping his son Michael clear enough of an acre of woods to have a home built in the middle of it. When grandkids came into the mix there were many more opportunities to help: he picked up Thomas from school virtually every day, helped out with the occasional sick kid, and was invaluable to Michael with family logistics. He was good at recognizing a much-needed lunch out – his favorites being Noodles, Fuddrucker’s, Solly’s, and Kopp’s – and he could always be counted on as an airport taxi any time day or night. Papa was instrumental in teaching both Megan and Thomas to drive – lessons started in grade school and changed significantly once each had a learner’s permit.
It said “family or friends” above, but it could have said “or friends, or friends of friends” as Joe volunteered at quite a few places: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee County, Ozaukee County Ride Providers, and St. John’s Church in Glendale to name but three. And Joe’s list of “friends” was ever increasing, whether it’s a kiosk worker in the mall, the hotel concierge, or a waiter.
In lieu of flowers please either donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee County, a favorite charity of your own, or best yet, volunteer your time to a cause you deem worthy.