Joseph Knapik

knapik1WESTFIELD – Joseph (Gunner) Curran Knapik, 79, passed away peacefully at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. A lifelong resident of Westfield, MA, Joseph was born on January 9, 1935. He was the son of the late Helen Rose (Curran) and Joseph John Knapik.
Joseph and his younger brother, John, grew up in the Lozierville section of Westfield in the same house as his father and grandparents. His early life was strongly influenced by his Slovak and Irish heritage. He had many enduring friendships and close associations with a large extended family. Joseph was wed to Alice Jane (nee Roberts) of Southwick, MA on June 25, 1960. He was a 1952 graduate of Westfield High School and a member of the 1949 Peanut Bowl Championship Team coached by the legendary Bill Moge.
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen and served his country during the Korean War as an Aviation Ordnanceman aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV43) of the United States Sixth Fleet. Honorably discharged in 1956, Joseph joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve (Rifle Company C, 1/25) in Springfield, MA and later at Westover Air Force Reserve Base, retiring in 1990 as a “Marine Gunner”, Chief Warrant Officer 4th Class. Joseph graduated from American International College in 1962 and was hired as a teacher in the Westfield Public Schools in 1964. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Westfield State College. He retired from the WPS in 1998 having spent most of his career as a middle school Guidance Counselor. He was also a Hampden County Deputy Sheriff and served as a Westfield Board of Public Works Commissioner.
Joseph is fondly recalled for playing a significant role in many memorable civic events and for providing invaluable mentorship to many people and his Marines. He was involved in veteran’s affairs, celebrations of his Slovak and Irish heritage, the support of youth education and the preservation of the Second Amendment. He was an active member of American Legion Post 124, the Marine Corps League Westfield River Valley Detachment 141, the St. Stephen’s Society and Slovak Citizens Club, St. Peter’s Parish Council, the Sons of Erin, the Knights of Columbus, the Westfield Sportsman’s Club, a National Rifle Association Life Member, and a member of Gun Owner’s Action League.
Joseph is survived by Alice; his four sons, Joseph and wife Rose of Holyoke, Michael and wife Kathleen of Westfield, Daniel and wife Tricia of Westfield and Neil and wife Debra of Natick; his brother, John and wife Joanne, also of Westfield. Among his proudest achievements was that of “Papa” to his seven beautiful grandchildren, Katherine, James, Joseph, Thomas, Anna, John, and Allison. Joseph was also beloved as “Uncle Joe” to many nieces, nephews and young cousins, including Mary, Johanna, Olivia and Julia, James, Priscilla, Glenda, Bruce, Douglas, Jane, Marian, Debra, Robert, Anthony, Amy, Emily and Luke.  His love, memory and generosity will live on in each.
The family would like to thank Pioneer Valley Urology, the D’Amour Center for Cancer, the Westfield Fire Department, the Emergency Dept. at Baystate Medical Center, the Westover Marines, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept., Firtion Adams Funeral Home and especially, the veterans and staff of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.
A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at St. Peter & St. Casimir Parish, 22 State Street, Westfield at 11:30 a.m. and then will proceed through Lozierville to the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam for a burial service at 1:00 p.m. Calling hours will be Monday, February 10, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Firtion Adams Funeral Home, 76 Broad Street, Westfield, MA.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of Westfield in the name of the Rose Curran Knapik Memorial Scholarship in care of CSF Westfield Dollars for Scholars, P.O. Box 382, Westfield, MA 01086.
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