by Sarah Squires
Joseph Eugene Plaisance Sr., 84, passed away peacefully at his home in Fountain City, Wis., on Monday, December 22, surrounded by family.
He was born April 27, 1930. He was raised in Minneapolis, graduated from Roosevelt High School and Dunwoody Institute. He served as a flight mechanic in the Air Force during the Korean War.
He married Lois Helseth in November 1951, and together they raised eight children. They moved to Winona in the mid-1950s when he accepted a job with Jonway Tool and Die. In 1970 he changed careers to become an instructor of advanced machine tool and die at the Winona Area Technical College; he retired from that position in 1990.
Joe was an active member of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the Jaycees, the Knights of Columbus, and the Winona Barbershoppers for 30+ years. He sang in a barbershop quartet for many years. He made countless friends from these activities, and was always the “go-to” guy for special projects and creative problem-solving.
When he married Noreen Epsky in October 1988, he gained another large bonus family in her eight children. They moved to rural Fountain City, Wis., where they enjoyed gardening, including growing several acres of grapes, and became members of the Northern Vineyards Wine Cooperative in Stillwater. After retiring, they traveled extensively and became “Winter Texans,” spending 18 years among many new friends in Rockport, Texas.
Joe had a great sense of humor, enormous energy and enjoyed life to the fullest. He loved singing, jokes, and always had dozens of projects in the works. He supported his family by attending hundreds of his kids’ and grandkids’ ball games, concerts, and theater productions. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He collected and restored 1966 Toronado cars and travelled to car shows. He and his second wife, Noreen, travelled to Germany with the barbershoppers and became friends with German barbershoppers they hosted. He was a huge fan of Dixieland jazz, and going to concerts and festivals throughout the Midwest. He really enjoyed the local Gate City Jazz Band, and performed as a guest vocalist with them regularly. A 10-day jazz cruise through the Caribbean was a highlight for him. No one enjoyed retirement more than Joe!
He was preceded in death by his parents, Katherine and Joseph Plaisance; his first wife, Lois; granddaughter, Kayla Hallee; and sister, Joan Waldock. His sister and mother were widowed early and followed Joe and Lois to Winona, where he looked after them, and helped raise his two young nephews, Peter and Paul Waldock.
He is survived by his wife, Noreen; children, Suzzanne (Greg Velin), Lucinda, Joe Jr. (Becky), Mary (Brian Ashbach), Don (Robin), Tom, Tina (Kevin Keilholtz) and Julie (Jeff Denzer); stepchildren, Gene (Cindy), Mary Plafcan, Patti, Peggy (Matt Mathies), Kathy (Joel Ebnet), John, Carol (Randy Hallock), and Linda Hawley; 20 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be held on Friday, December 26, 2014, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fawcett-Junker Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, December 27, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. with visitation one hour prior at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The Reverend Monsignor Richard Colletti will officiate. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery with the American Legion Leon Wetzel Post # 9 conducting military honors.