Mutual man put his family above everything
Joseph Lawrence spent his life dedicated to taking care of his family.
As a teen, Lawrence dropped out of high school to take care of his mother and sisters after his father died. A few years later, he got married and began having children of his own. He gave up his college career and spent the rest of his life making sure his wife and eight children had what they needed to succeed.
Lawrence, 82, of Mutual in Unity, died Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, surrounded by his family.
“He was a role model for everyone around him and he never asked anything for himself,” said Colleen Lawrence, his youngest daughter.
Lawrence spent many years of his life working seven days a week to provide for his family. He spent 19 years working as a millwright at Modulus Corp., where he was elected as a local union officer and a member of the U.S. Steelworkers Constitution Committee.
After Modulus closed, he went on to be an electrical trades instructor for the former state prison near Greensburg, teaching inmates how to repair things.
“He felt good,” said Rachelle Gyurke, his oldest daughter. “He was giving them something that they didn't have and companionship.”
His teaching didn't stop at work, either. He made sure his sons and daughters knew how to use tools and fix things. He also instilled a love of the outdoors.
“I was his little sidekick,” Colleen Lawrence said. “I had six brothers, so he wanted to make sure I knew how to use every power tool in the house.”
Several of his grandchildren have taken the technical skills he taught them and gone on to be engineers.
In addition to six of his eight children and 18 grandchildren, Lawrence is survived by his wife, Joan, of nearly 60 years.
“He was very supportive and very caring,” his wife said.
Joan said her husband was proud to be involved with many organizations including the Greensburg Sportsmen Association and Hecla Sportsmen. He was also a member of the United Slovak Club, Mutual VFD and the American Legion.
He was a Marine veteran who served in the Korean War.
“He was very proud to be a Marine,” Joan Lawrence said.
Son-in-law Jim Gyurke said his father-in-law made friends everywhere he went.
“If you only have one life to live, Joe made the most of his as a little part of him stays with all of us who knew him,” he said.
Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Jay A. Hoffer Funeral Home, Norvelt in Mt. Pleasant Township. A vigil service will be held at 7:45 p.m. Monday in the funeral home. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Florian Church. Interment to follow in St. Florian Cemetery with military rites accorded by the Armbrust Veterans Association.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680.