American Veteran 04

Joseph Michael Vukman

December 16, 2020



Joseph M. Vukman, 95, of Penfield, NY, formerly of Blairsville, PA, quietly and peacefully slipped away in his sleep at home with his niece and caregiver, Terri, on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. After a hard-fought battle with vascular dementia and Covid-19, he received his healing at his eternal home with Jesus, his Lord and Savior. He was blessed with the best Christmas gift of all!  Joe was born April 19, 1925 in Blairsville, PA to Theresa A. (Brasic) Vukman and Stephen Vukman. Joe was a lifelong member of the SS Simon & Jude Church in Blairsville, PA where he served as an usher for many years. He was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  After graduating from Blairsville High School in 1944, Joe was drafted into the army. As a member of the 351st Infantry, he fought during WWII in Africa and Italy before being captured and surviving 9 1/2 months as a Prisoner of War in Germany. Upon release, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a POW medal.  After the war, Joe returned to Blairsville, PA where he worked in his parents’ Tintown liquor business, The White Tavern. He also delivered coal and attended Vale Technical Institute. Eventually, Joe secured a job with the Blairsville Post Office where he worked 34 years until retirement. Additionally, he worked as a landlord and was the caregiver for his own mother.   Affectionately known as “Uncle Joe” by everyone, he was remembered as Santa Claus at Christmas time and never missed a birthday. Uncle Joe, never marrying or having his own biological children, was a father figure. Family treasures memories with him of playing Parcheesi, going to the library, learning to read, enjoying Sunday Dairy Queen trips, and attending special events, such as a helicopter ride.  Later in life, Uncle Joe enjoyed extended stays with family in New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Pennsylvania.  He eventually settled in New York and made his home with his daughter-like niece, Terri, her husband, Mike, his great niece and nephew, Jenna and Nicholas, and the family’s beloved dogs, Chloe and Ella. Jenna enjoyed a special bond with her great-uncle and eventually became an integral part of his caregiver team, while Nicholas kept Uncle Joe healthy and strong as his personal trainer.  Uncle Joe was known for walking miles and miles through all the states he lived, striking up conversations with whoever he met. With his infectious smile, he loved sharing stories with friends and family.  He is survived by his brother, John S. Vukman (Mary) of Blairsville, PA; his nephews, John S. Vukman (Cena) of Blairsville, PA, John S. Baran (Victoria) of Houston, TX, Michael A. Baran (also Godson) (Susan L. Shaffer) of Blairsville, PA, and Joseph A. Baran (Olivia) of Jenks, OK; his nieces, Jean Ann (Vukman) Losco (Philip) of Blairsville, PA and Teresa A. (Baran) D’Angelo (Michael) of Penfield, NY; and his nephew Steven’s wife, Susan D. Baran of Ocean Springs, MS. Joseph is also survived by 12 great nephews & nieces and 11 great great nephews & nieces.  He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Mary Ann (Vukman) Baran; and nephew, Steven M. Baran.  A private family viewing with military honors was held with Fr. Stephen R. Bugay conducting services in SS Simon & Jude Cemetery, Blairsville. Celebration of Life Memorial Services will be held in both NY and PA, as well as a memorial mass in Blairsville, PA at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the University of Rochester Medical Center Memory Care Program (Rochester, NY) or to SS Simon & Jude Church (Blairsville, PA).

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