Joseph Nachamkin

Joe passed peacefully at home on September 27th, 2016

My father was the type of man who would help anyone, whether a friend, neighbor, or stranger. If someone was in need my dad wouldn’t think twice to drop what he was doing to provide any needed assistance. I would describe him as being introspective, analytical, resourceful, perceptive, methodical, disciplined, and most importantly patient beyond belief. He possessed an inner strength that was boundless and unwavering. Many who knew him conveyed the phrase when describing my father as: “Strong like Bull”. He was the type of man who kept abreast of current affairs reading the Wall Street Journal every day and the Economist weekly, along with articles online and varied American and European news broadcasts. He was also passionate about history, specifically, he loved military history. He left a library of books on the subject having read them all! He enjoyed discussing anything to do with history and reveled in friendly, though, sometimes heated, discussions on current affairs and politics. But he was always prepared. If a discussion arose, he wanted to hear what the other person had to say and would ask them many questions about their point of view before responding with his own thoughts. He was known to have somewhat of a dry sense of humor which we all learned to love. We are all sure this stemmed from his love of British comedies. But he also loved and introduced us to the old classic comedy movies of Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers. 

My dad grew up in Brooklyn, NY, the youngest of three boys. At 17, he joined the Army, serving in Guam during WWII.  Upon returning home he joined the Marine Corps Reserves and went back to active duty as a Marine during the Korean Conflict. He spent just over two years in Korea, first clearing mines where he was wounded twice. His second year, which he was undeniably very proud of was spent serving in the MAGIS (Marine Air Ground Intelligence Systems) Division.

After the war, he spent time living with his brother’s family in Washington D.C.  before deciding to go back to NY. He worked for a couple of years as a State Park Ranger at Bear Mountain. Then he decided to use the GI bill and go to school.  He graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Pratt Institute.  He then got a job working for Herman Miller as an industrial engineer. To this day we still have an Eames chair, a desk, and some other small pieces he was able to purchase while there.  Several years later after getting married and having his first child he decided to go back to school and got his degree as a Systems Analyst. He worked for many years in this role first for IBM and later with New York City’s MTA.

Love of His Life

Soon after starting his job with Herman Miller, he would end up meeting the love of his life. He and a group of friends would regularly go up to the Catskills on weekend getaways. One weekend while at one of the hotels he and his buddies were at the dance when Gladys (mom) caught his gaze immediately.  She was stunning and she was the center of attention. He was on the shy side but determined to meet her. How could he get her to notice him? He decided to walk by and “accidentally” spill his drink on her. That worked, though not quite as expected. She was definitely upset, and he of course made his apologies. He then offered to take her back to her room so she could change and then buy her dinner. They ended up dating. After three months he proposed. Mom wouldn’t have it. She enjoyed dating and wasn’t ready to commit to anyone, after all, it was only a short time that they had been dating. But dad was persistent. Six months later after much “romancing”, e.g. the time he came over for a date, and when her roommate let him in, she explained mom was so exhausted from work she fell asleep while waiting he left a rose on her chest. Or the many times he made and gave mom handmade cards with either lines from her favorite poems or some other sentiment he wrote. And most importantly he knew that wherever they went for dinner the restaurant had to have a good selection of desserts, preferably something chocolate. This was joked about forever; this was the true way to mom’s heart.  It paid off he proposed and this time she said yes. They married in 1956 and were happily married for 60 years.

Family

He was blessed and cared for greatly by many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and his great-great nieces and nephews as well as by his many cousins. One of my dad’s more recent and very large undertakings was identifying old family pictures and using his computer skills to create a family tree.

He became a “second” father to many of my friends over the years and cherished this role. Joe whom I had been living with for several years at the time of his passing was like a second son. He enjoyed talking and spending time with him and most of all he loved the bonus Joe came with… Jake, Joe’s (our) dog. He absolutely adored Jake. He bought a ball so he could play with Jake when we brought him over and he always had bones, food, and biscuits on hand. That way he felt if we were in the neighborhood we would stop by with Jake. He would be able to spend time playing with Jake and there would always be something for Jake to “nosh” on.  

He unequivocally loved his family. We were sitting and talking a few weeks before he passed. I will never forget our conversation. It was pure, authentic, and truly heartfelt. One of the things he told me was that he had always thought he understood the meaning of love, but he had come to truly appreciate what love encompassed, what love embodied, and what love truly meant. For a man of few words, this was a very powerful and touching gift to leave his family.

Activities

Joe loved his family first and foremost. He loved history, especially military history but he also had a humorous side particularly old classic comedies and British comedies and of course, there was the goofy animated series. Way back when there was “Rocky and Bullwinkle” then years later came “The Simpsons” amongst others. He strongly believed that these animated series’ humor was meant for adults. He loved going to the movies. He felt that was how you needed to fully experience and appreciate a movie. The big screen and great sound were important. We often went to afternoon movies together. War movies, (mom didn’t join us), all kinds of movies, animated, action, mystery, suspense, and of course comedies.

He and my mom regularly played bridge with different groups of friends. They always had dinner out, trying out different types of cuisines/restaurants first, then they played bridge, taking turns at someone’s home, followed by coffee, dessert, and lots of chatting.

For years after moving to Florida, Friday nights were meant for the same group of friends they had known forever. Often dad would volunteer to pick one or two of the women. Always the gentleman. They had their favorite spots to eat pretty much on rotation. Sometimes though it would depend on the weather… but dad really didn’t care.

Joe loved the outdoors and enjoyed hiking. But his true passion and biggest hobby was model building, he had hundreds of them and was always on the lookout for something new and different. He built ships, engines, and military craft but he specifically loved airplanes. He loved the detail; he was meticulous and a perfectionist. He could easily spend hours researching the type of craft he was working on adding additional details which created a more realistic look and feel, well beyond what the “basic” kit offered. He belonged to several scale modeling groups, was entered into several competitions, and received many accolades. It was obvious to us, his family, the satisfaction, and pleasure he got when completing a model. He never had to say anything, he never did he was not that type of man. But we always knew.

Feel free to share your thoughts and prayers for Joe Nachamkin below.

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Jeff Nachamkin
Jeff Nachamkin
1 year ago

Joe was my uncle. He absolutely influenced my life. After serving with the USMC in Korea for two years he came to live with my family. I remember having a lot of fun with him. I shared my room with him. We would stay up all night talking, he took me with him often when he went out… it was like having a big brother. He even gave me his eagle. globe and anchor pin. Years later I too enlisted in the USMC.
He was kind, generous and had a lot of patience with me as “a kid” who just wanted to know everything. We did lose touch later in life but got the chance to reconnect. I am so grateful for having had that opportunity. He was still the same man I knew as a child… he had the same patience with all my questions.
Truly enjoyed our conversations about military history – he was so knowledgeable.
He is greatly missed.
We all send our love to his family, Gladys, Janna and Mark – our thoughts are with you

Harold
Harold
1 year ago

Our thoughts and condolences to Gladys, Janna and Mark. Your husband/father was a wonderful friend and neighbor.
Joe called everyday and got me to go the gym and pool, something I needed to do and would not have done if he didn’t call.
If ever Shirley and I needed anything, help of any kind, he would say; “I’ll be right there”, even if we said it could wait. He dropped whatever he was doing and there would be a knock at our door.
The best were his BBQ’s. He made the greatest ribs. We enjoyed many a holiday, or just for fun bbq, but especially his famous birthday bbq’s. Every year, for his birthday, he would go all out, there were ribs, all kinds of grilled vegetables, homemade chili, shrimp, steaks or burgers and hot dogs… one hot dog always burnt for Gladys. He loved experimenting and worked so hard but truly enjoyed being the “grill master”. Thank you.