Joseph "Joe" Cecala

Died: February 19, 2019
Joseph  Cecala thumbnail
Allen Memorial
Mark Brodbeck
Kim and Logan Kniwles.
Al Eaton
Robin Gray Light a candle


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.

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Service Schedule

Visitation Information

Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Time: 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Allen Memorial Home


511-513 East Main Street
Endicott, NY 13760

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Time: 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home


736 Central Avenue
Dunkirk, NY 14048

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Service Information

Date: Friday, March 1, 2019

Time: 10:00 am

Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church


1032 Central Avenue
Dunkirk, NY 14048

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Life Event Timeline

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Timeline for Joseph Cecala

November 30, 1974
Ocean-side at Kwajalein
Ocean-side at Kwajalein
Died: February 19, 2019

Condolences for Joseph Cecala

Allen Memorial

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Allen Memorial Home.


Craig Beatus posted on 7/18/19

I’m soo sorry for your loss!! My condolences!!! Craig Beatus


Barb & Dave Bradt posted on 2/27/19

We are grieving Joe’s passing, but are thankful for all the many happy memories our families have made together. Oquaga Lake, skiing Greek Peak, parties, ski trips, etc. Covering you with prayers and lots of love.


Mike Ferro posted on 2/26/19

My condolences to Joe's family. I knew Joe through the Adaptive Ski program. I'll miss him, and his wonderful sense of humor.


Kevin Walters posted on 2/26/19

I have gotten to know Joe while he was a volunteer ski instructor in the Adaptive Snowsports Program at Greek Peak. I always enjoyed classes given by Joe, as they really helped not only to improve my skiing, but gave me useful techniques to add to my instruction toolbox. Joe was such a good natured person, always a pleasure to be around. He was truly a gentle man. I was so saddened to learn of his passing and I know that I am not alone when I say he will be sorely missed. To Carol and Joe's family: please accept my heartfelt condolences.


Mark Brodbeck posted on 2/26/19

In memory of Joseph "Joe" Cecala, Mark Brodbeck lit a candle


Mark Brodbeck posted on 2/26/19

Joe was my uncle, and was just inches away from being Crazy Uncle Joe due to the shenanigans he liked to pull in a speed boat. Like so many children before and after us, Joe taught my siblings and I to water ski. It was so much more than that - it was an opportunity to be daring, to be good at something difficult, to fail repeatedly and maybe not even succeed - and still have an immensely good time while surrounded by people who love you. We would ski until my legs gave out from exhaustion, or the sun set, whichever came first. It is a childhood memory constructed of pure joy. I can still taste the lake water. I couldn't have asked for better experiences. Joe was so much more than this memory; as an adult I got to know him as a person with many intricate layers. I just wanted to share this as an example of his boundless generosity, and how he opened the vista of 'what's possible' far wider for so many people.


Kim and Logan Kniwles. posted on 2/25/19

You will be deeply missed. Logan and I loved you. You were such a kind caring compassionate man. You were truly one of a kind. May your family find peace knowing you will shine bright as an angel


Gina and Sal Liotta posted on 2/25/19

Sal and I were so saddened to learn of the loss of Joe. He was not only a wonderful neighbor but a treasured career colleague. He will really be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Joe.


Al Eaton posted on 2/25/19

I had the privilege of working with Joe on several projects at IBM/Loral/Lockheed Martin. My favorite memories are of working with Joe on the EH101 Merlin Program in the United Kingdom. Joe was an outstanding engineer and leader. He was also a great friend with a good sense of humor. I send my sincere condolences to his family. Rest In Peace Joe.


Steve Briggs posted on 2/24/19

No one could ask for a better friend and I will miss him. I will always carry fond memories of all our diving adventures, learning to ski under his tutelage, and a career-long friendship. My condolences to the entire family, but especially to Lisa, Robin, Alexandra, Carol and Barb


Kevin Williams posted on 2/23/19

Dear Cecala family - We are so sorry for your loss. Joe was a wonderful man and a great systems engineer. I worked with him several times in Owego. I am sure he will be greatly missed. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. - Suzanne and Kevin Williams


Lorraine Arney posted on 2/23/19

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cecala family. Repectfully Joe and Lorraine Arney


Robin Gray posted on 2/22/19

So sorry for your loss, Robin, Alexandra and family. You are in my thoughts during this difficult time.


Laurie Tilton posted on 2/22/19

Dear Robin & Lisa, I am so very sorry for the loss of your father. It so difficult to lose a parent. Your world is forever changed. Please know that I will be praying for your dad and your family especially during this very difficult time. God bless you and your family, Laurie


Michelle Rehorka posted on 2/22/19

I’m so sorry for your loss, Lisa. He sounds like a wonderful man. With my deepest condolences.


Newcombe Cynthia posted on 2/22/19

Jim and I will be remembering Mr Cecala in our prayers. We will continue to pray for the family and all who are grieving in this time of loss.