Joseph T. "Joe" Fierschnaller, 91, of Connellsville, passed away peacefully Friday June 22, 2018, at Brightview Assisted Living, Catonsville, Md., surrounded by his loving family.
Joe was born April 13, 1927, in Connellsville, the son of the late Joseph F. and Edna Marie (Helms) Fierschnaller.
He served our country in the Army Air Force from 1945 to 1947 as a supply clerk. Ironically, he never flew in an airplane until the 1970s when he had to travel for a business trip. Following his service to our country, Joe attended Slippery Rock State Teachers College (now Slippery Rock University), where he played basketball and was a member of the swim team. He graduated in 1952 with his bachelor's degree in education.
Joe was employed with Anchor Hocking Glass as a payroll master for more than 30 years until his retirement in 1991. He had a penchant for numbers and throughout his employment and well into his retirement, as he would run into people on the street, he'd recognize them by their Anchor Hocking clock numbers well before he remembered their names.
Joe was an athlete with a deep passion for sports, especially the game of basketball. As a young man, he would leave his day job at Anchor Hocking, come home and eat dinner with his family, and then transform into his role as a teacher of the sport that he loved so much. He was the director of the Connellsville YMCA Youth Basketball program for more than 20 years and taught the game to more than 2,000 kids from the Connellsville area. This was a source of great pride for Joe, and he cherished those moments when former students would tell him how his passion for basketball and the skills that he taught to them sparked their love of the game and made them successful in their own basketball careers. Joe also served as a WPIAL Basketball referee for 25 years and, if people didn't recognize him based on his "tough to pronounce" last name, they definitely knew him from his unique signature move of standing on one leg, other leg extended parallel to the floor, while pointing at the guilty party as he called them for a foul.
Following his retirement, he developed a new sports passion and took up the game of golf, and he played in the Senior League at Kings Mountain. From this, he developed a series of deep friendships with the "Kings Mountain guys," and if they weren't on the golf course, you could find them talking about their golf game over coffee at McDonald's or over beers at Trivia Night.
Joe was a quintessential, devoted Pittsburgh sports fan who "bled black and gold" - he loved all of the Pittsburgh teams and on most days, you could find him wearing a shirt or jacket honoring his beloved Steelers, Pirates or Penguins and quoting the stats or recounting a play of the most recent game or a game he attended 25 years earlier.
Joe was known and loved by many in the Connellsville community. He was the big affable guy who could, within moments of meeting people, talk to them as if he had known them all his life and instantly make friends. He was honored as Connellsville's Citizen of the Year in 1976, when the Daily Courier headline read "Citizen of the Year - a Regular Joe." He was involved in many different clubs and organizations in Connellsville, including the Knights of Columbus, Geibel Men's Club and the Slovak Club. He was a man of great faith and was a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Connellsville.
Joe was the patriarch of his entire extended family, dearly admired by all of his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and in-laws. Family gatherings provided many opportunities to sit on the porch swing with "Big Joe" or play any kind of sport, especially a pick-up basketball game, where Joe, the "veteran," challenged his beloved brother-in-law Mark, the "rookie."
Joe will be deeply missed by his loving family and many friends that he has made throughout the years.
Joe is survived by his son, Mark Fierschnaller and wife Vicki, of Butler; daughters, Leanne Posko and husband Henry, of Severna Park, Md., and Nancy Bauer and husband Eric, of Catonsville, Md.; grandchildren, Joel Fierschnaller, Lauren Fierschnaller, Katie Posko, Jake Posko, Matt Posko, Patrick Bauer and Jackson Bauer; sister, Irene Moon, of Monongahela; sisters-in-law, Dee Murray, of Huntington Valley, and Mary Elabarger, of Bridgeville; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by his loving wife of 58 years, Carole Ann (Murray) Fierschnaller (June 6, 2017); brothers-in-law, Mark Murray, Rupe Russell, Steve Elabarger and James Moon; and sister-in-law, Sheila Russell.
Funeral arrangements for Joe were under the care and supervision of Hartenstein Funeral and Cremation Care Inc., New Freedom, and then his funeral arrangements were transferred into the care and supervision of PAUL G. FINK FUNERAL HOME INC., 418 N. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville, PA 15425.
In following with Joe's wishes, there will be no public visitation held.
A funeral Mass and celebration of life will be held at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Connellsville on Saturday July 28, 2018 at 10am with Rev. Fr. Robert Lubic as Celebrant.
Inurnment of both Joe and Carole will be private and held at a later date with their family at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, Bridgeville, with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you please consider a donation to any of the following organizations: Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Connellsville, Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Connellsville or the American Cancer Society.
If you wish to leave an online condolence for the family, please visit our website: www.paulgfinkfuneralhome.com.
American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City OK 73123
Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church
116 South Second Street, Connellsville PA 15425
Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School
611 E. Crawford Avenue, Connellsville PA 15425