I have Lost the Most Important Man in My Life
On December 15th, 2021, Joe Niamtu, Jr, my father, namesake, hero, role model, disciplinarian, guiding light and humor understudy passed away from a brief illness at the age of 97. To summarize, he was the one person in my life that I always wanted to impress and never let down. He was a World War II vet and proud American patriot. Many people think that losing someone at that age is easier, but in some respects, it is harder, as I have had a father all my life. I realize I was lucky. My dear mom Elsie died at a young age. My dad had 97 awesome years and 15 bad days at the end!
My dad and I shared many great times traveling, fishing and hanging out. Our best trip ever was when I was lecturing in Europe and took my dad. One of my talks was in Bucharest, Romania, and he introduced me to a large crowd in his parent’s native language and got to watch the “Joe Show”. After the that lecture, we went to France, and he got to see Normandy and Omaha Beach. As a WWII vet who lost friends there, it brought tears to his eyes.
My dad was always one of the boys when he came to visit Richmond, showing off his unique and amazing sense of humor. It was impossible to tell him a joke, he would tell you the punchline within 5 seconds. He had a flair for making friends. He could be standing in line for something the person next to him became a friend. He always looked out for the less fortunate and was very involved in helping those in need.
He was as sharp as a tack, spoke three languages and was always a teacher and a student. He was a kind, gentle and caring man, but raising me kept him busy! I had a lot of energy and mischief, but he managed to keep me on point. He was extremely motivated, diligent, and honest. He possessed (like his father) the immigrant work ethic which was passed down to me. Many times, I have been asked by patients or colleagues how I got so much done in my profession? The answer is simple, I had an amazing role model. Love you forever Pops, thanks for all you did for us.
Formal Obituary followed by pictures
Joseph Niamtu, Jr
Our 800 Sq Ft home my dad bought for 10K on the G.I Bill
Formal Obituary for Joe Niamtu, Jr.
He was (first generation), the only son of Romanian immigrants during a very unique time in the history or our nation.
Joseph Niamtu, Jr, passed away on December 15, 2021, following a brief illness. Joe was a first-generation American, the only son of Romanian immigrants Joseph and Elena Niamtu. He was always proud of his heritage. Born on July 7th, 1924, Joe grew up during the Great Depression. As one of the dwindling members of THE GREATEST GENERATION, he served his country in the Army during World War II. He spent most of his military time in the Panama Canal Zone. He was a great patriot with an undying love for the United States of America. Joe was a graduate of Timken High School Class of 1942, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kent State University.
Joe retired from Frito Lay where he led the Canton Division of Rold Gold Foods. He played a major role in the manufacture and sales of Frito Lay products, which were an unknown brand in in this part of the United States in 1958. He marketed Frito Lay and Rold Gold brands in the Eastern United States and Canada. Following retirement, Joe was invited to develop and teach a Business Internship course at Walsh University, which he greatly enjoyed.
Joe was born and raised in Canton and loved the Canton/Stark County area. He was a dedicated public servant. Joe became involved with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 1960s and his greatest civic honor was serving as the General Chairman of the 1980 Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival. His public service also included past Chairman of the Walsh Advisory Board and former annual operating campaign manager; past Chairman Downtown Canton YMCA and recipient of YMCA Red Triangle award; member of the Area YMCA Board of Trustees; member emeritus Salvation Army Canton Citadel, worked on annual Christmas Kettle drive since 1945; served as Chairman of the 1983 United Negro College Fund campaign; member of American Legion Post 44, Canton Ohio, past President and former member American Legion Toastmaster Club #637; past member Greater Canton Chamber of Commerce where he served on numerous committees; former President and board member, Rotary Club of Canton; was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Honolulu, Hawaii in 1976; former Chairman and past member of the Civil Service Commission of Canton Ohio; recipient of United Way’s Gold Key Award; recipient of the Timken High School Distinguished Alumni award; past President of The Stark Wayne Lung Association; Charter member of The American Production and Inventory Control Society, Stark County Chapter; former member of the Catholic Community League of Canton area; in 1983, received the Canton Sales and Marketing Executives annual Frank T. Cannon “Top Manager of the Year” award for integrity, business success and community achievement. He was the owner of two American patents and two Canadian patents on a putting device, Perfect Putt which was distributed throughout the United States.
Joe was an avid, lifetime golfer and shot a 70 on his 80th birthday. He enjoyed golfing with his beloved brothers-in-law, and he loved escaping Ohio Winters to his condominium in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, which was appropriately located on a PGA golf course. He enjoyed boating, fishing, big band music and spending time with family. Joe spoke 3 languages and was also a tremendous history buff. He was a faithful member of the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in Canton.
Joe was the longest standing member of the Area YMCA, having joined in 1933 at the age of 8 years old. At the time of its closing, Joe was the longest standing member of Tam O’ Shanter Golf Club. He began as a caddy at “Tammi,” in 1938 at the age of 13. He shot his last hole there in October 2018.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Elsie (Sholl) Niamtu, second wife, Violet (Strain) Niamtu, sisters and brothers-in-law Helen and Emil Chapanar, Valerie and Michael Hutsell, Mimi and Nick Comsia, and by his son James Niamtu, who passed away in August of this year. Left to honor his memory are his children Dr. Joseph (April) Niamtu III, Marilyn (Dennis) Holbrook, and Lisa (Scott) Waite, grandchildren Joe IV and Evan Niamtu, Sean (Kristine) Holbrook, Amy (Bill) Smith, Becky Niamtu, Susie (Jeremy) Linquist Scott (Nicole) Waite, Matthew (Ashlee) Waite and great grandchildren, Meghan, Preston, Emily, Jack and Ella. He loved his nieces and nephews.
From your children: Dad, we thank you for instilling in us the importance of reading, the relevance of a good work ethic, the wonder of learning, the ability to see beyond the horizon, the strength of love, the virtue of character, the joy of family, the depth of faith, the power of forgiveness and the value of a good sense of humor. Through the roller coaster of life, you always made us laugh. You were always generous to the less fortunate and kind to many people who were often overlooked. Your legacy will live on in our memories and in our laughter. We will hold you in our hearts for the remaining days of our lives and until we meet again. Godspeed faithful servant.
We wish to thank the care team and entire staff at Cleveland Clinic Mercy Medical for their valiant and compassionate care, during such tumultuous times.
A mass of Christian Burial and private graveside service was held Friday, December 17th.Arrangements were handled by Lamiell Funeral Home in Canton. For those interested, donations may be made in Joe’s name, to Walsh University https://www.walsh.edu/ or the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in Canton. Basilica of Saint John the Baptist