Joseph “Joe” Franklin Cecala, 78, passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. He is survived by his partner, Carol Hamlin; his daughters, Lisa and Robin; his granddaughter, Alexandra; his brother, Dennis (Marie) Cecala; Carol’s daughter, Kelley Hamlin (Tilghman Smith); his former wife, Barbara Cecala; and several cousins, nieces, nephews and many good friends. He was predeceased by his father, Joseph Cecala; his mother, Agnes (Lazarony) Cecala; as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Joe enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He was an especially devoted “Papa” to his granddaughter (who had him wrapped around her little finger!) As Joe told many people, he was proud of his daughters and their achievements. He offered his support when needed and often his advice (even when it was not always welcomed!).
Joe was born in Fredonia, NY and graduated from Fredonia High School (valedictorian) in 1958. He graduated from Clarkson University in 1962 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He worked for IBM Owego, Loral and then Lockheed Martin Owego from 1962 until his retirement in 2009. During that time, Joe received numerous honors and worked on some high-profile projects such as the guidance system of the Saturn V rocket (used in the Apollo missions), the Light Airborne Multipurpose System (LAMPS), the BQQ-5 Submarine Sonar System, and the US 101 Presidential Helicopter.
Joe also had the wonderful opportunity to spend 18 months living with his family on Kwajalein in the Marshal Islands. He developed a deep love of scuba diving there and especially enjoyed taking pictures of the undersea life and removing portholes from sunken Japanese ships.
Joe was not a man to remain stationary, even when instructed to do so by doctors! He spent many happy summers water skiing, running and biking at Oquaga Lake. Joe was active in the winter, too. He spent his time skiing (and snowboarding) and was a ski instructor at Greek Peak for over 40 years. In the past few years, Joe found a great deal of happiness as a volunteer for the Greek Peak Adaptive program where he developed a special relationship with program participant, Logan Knowels.
The first visitation will be held Wednesday, February 27, 4-7 p.m. at Allen Memorial Home, 511-513 E. Main Street, Endicott.
On Thursday, February 28, 4-7 p.m., family and friends will also receive visitors at McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home, 736 Central Avenue, Dunkirk, NY 14048. On Friday, March 1 at 10 a.m., a mass of Christian burial will be held at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, 1032 Central Ave, Dunkirk, NY 14048. A private interment will follow. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Greek Peak Adaptive Snow Sports program at: Greek Peak Adaptive Snow Sports, 518 Hooper Rd PMB 261, Endwell, NY 13760.