Joseph O Vanest 6/27/27 – 10/16/18
Joe’s favorite things include his family, travel and creative projects.
Grandchildren (5) and great-grandchildren (3) have increased the count of the family. With spouses the number of people at the table could reach 16. Joe loved sitting at the head of the table with his family around him.
Travel has been something Joe has enjoyed since the first cross-county train trip to California to embark for the Philippines. Road trips within the US, Canada and even Costa Rica were carefully planned and enjoyed. In later years, Alice and Joe traveled extensively – often enjoying river cruises in Europe and Scandinavia and well as traveling by ship to Alaska. Extensive photo records of each trip have been extensively curated and saved.
Joe learned to be an electrician from his father and work around building sites gave him an understanding of other trades. With that background, he built an addition on a house, designed and made extensive patios among many, many other home projects. On a smaller scale he molded tin soldiers and painted them and engaged in woodworking, using a lathe to create wooden bowls, candlesticks and wooden toys.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Joe’s family returned to their hometown during the depression. Gladwin, Michigan was an excellent place for a boy to grow to manhood. Joe took advantage of many small town offerings from Boy Scouts (he achieved Eagle status) to school sports (basket ball, tennis and football).
Barely of age, Joe was part of the US Army’s Air Corps mopping up action in the Philippines after WWII. The GI Bill gave him access to Michigan State University where he joined the ROTC and was in the US Army Reserves. When the Korean Conflict began he was activated into the Army Signal Corps where he was assigned to the Signal School at Fort Monmouth, NJ. In that capacity he supported the mission to make foreign officers familiar with American military methods and culture. When he left active service he held the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
While at MSU Joe was re-introduced to the cousin of a good friend, Alice Zettel. They married in their junior year and graduated together in 1952.
Joe’s degrees in Engineering and Industrial Management drew the attention of ALCOA (known then as the Aluminum Company of America) and he worked in Human Resources at plants and offices in Detroit, Pittsburgh, West Lafayette ,Indiana and Bettendorf, Iowa. He was recruited in 1964 by International Harvester to work on Labor Relations (union contracts). The company moved the family (2 daughters by that time: Linda Jo and Janice) to the Chicago area where they settled in Glen Ellyn. In later years he served as International Harvester’s representative to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and as the corporate officer for compliance of Affirmative Action. Other than a 6 year “Foreign Posting” in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, Alice and Joe have lived in Glen Ellyn.
In 1994 Joe put his engineering and management talents to work in a completely different area when he was hired by the DuPage County Health Department. Here he oversaw the business side of the department and expanded services by developing satellite offices which generally needed to be redesigned for the purpose of clinics and office space. When he retired he was the Deputy Executive Director of the Health Department.
During this time Joe became engaged in Republican Party activities serving as President of Milton Township’s local branch, and was campaign manager for State Senator Beverly Fawell among other things.
Post retirement, Joe was taped by Milton Township to help shape a new initiative to support the seniors of the area: S.A.L.T. (Seniors and Law enforcement Together) which he later served as Chairman. In 2017 he was named Glen Ellyn’s Senior of the Year.
Joe and Alice have been active members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn where Joe’s activities have included serving as a reader and a vestry member.
He will be missed.