Joseph T. Minarovich, 90, formerly of 20 Meadow Lane, Jamestown, passed away on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at Lutheran Retirement Home surrounded by his family. He was blessed to have heard the voices of all his children in his final hours and to be holding his wife’s hand when he passed. Joe was the husband of Alice T. Conway, whom he married June 8, 1957. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year.
Born Feb. 4, 1926, in Heilwood, Pa., Joe was the son of Thomas and Mary Minarovich. He joined the Army Cadet program in 1943 then switched over to the U.S. Air Force. Joe received his BS and MS in Aeronautical Engineering from Penn State University, graduating as a First Lt. in reserve officer training. His more than 20 years working with the U.S. government included traveling with a War Department Card when he was put on orders with the U.S. Air Force Defense System serving approximately 15 airbases working with jetfighter squadrons along the northern border of the United States and Iceland. After, he worked approximately seven years for NASA, helping develop the concept for landing on the moon, working on the Propellant Utilization and Gauging System (PUGS) which made sure the astronauts had enough fuel to get back to earth, and was responsible for providing the best information available on altitude. In addition, he worked with the fastest airplane at the time, the Blackbird SR-71, which navigated using the stars with the precision of today’s GPS.
Joe’s career in aeronautics and his passion for aviation led him all over the country. He met his wife in NYC and lived with his family in many states across the country. He eventually settled in Jamestown, N.Y., finding ways to share his aviation dreams and passions with others, inspiring new interests and careers for younger generations. He became the FAA examiner for Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties, a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol, the aerospace education officer for the New York Wing’s Jamestown Composite Squadron, a certified flight instructor for single and multi-engine airplanes, and a well known practical instructor of classes on glider flying at Chautauqua Institution for approximately 15 years. He taught ground school at Jamestown Community College for approximately 40 years, leading to the development of the Professional Pilots program at JCC. He was instrumental in developing the Student Exploratory Aircraft Mechanics program at BOCES. And, he was co-founder of the Lucille M. Wright Air Museum in Jamestown, N.Y., which began in a large hanger at the Jamestown Airport provided by JCC. Over the years, many children in the area schools have enjoyed and appreciated his school assemblies and trips to the Lucille M. Wright Air Museum.
Joe is survived by his ten children: Cathy LaBarte (Ron) of Sugar Grove, Pa.; Mary Cheniae (Mike) of Alexandra, Va.; Elizabeth Minarovich of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Joe Minarovich of Vail, Colo.; Alice Munschauer (John) of Buffalo, N.Y.; Dianne Couris (John) of Jupiter, Fla.; Christi Minarovich Debert (Aladino) of Los Angeles, Calif.; Tom Minarovich (Kristen) of Lakewood, N.Y.; Steve Minarovich of Plymouth, Mass.; and Tim Minarovich of Vail, Colo.; and by his grandchildren: Theresa LaBarte Hsu of Irvine, Calif.; Christopher LaBarte of Canonsburg, Pa.; Clairisse Cheniae of Alexandria, Va.; Patrick and Maggie Munschauer of Buffalo, N.Y.; Ben and Isabelle Couris of Jupiter, Fla.; Milan and Theo Debert of Los Angeles, Calif.; Cameron and Carissa Minarovich of Lakewood, N.Y.; and Cormac Minarovich of Plymouth, Mass. He will be deeply missed by his family and all who knew him. He will be remembered fondly for his enthusiasm for flying as he could bring up the subject in every conversation. He will also be remembered for his jokes; he always had a few to share every time you saw him. And his family will remember him for his entertaining card tricks and nostalgic songs.
In keeping with his nature of serving science and humanity, he has donated his body to the Anatomical Gift Program at the University of Buffalo. Those who wish to pay their respects will be able to do so on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, from 2-5 p.m. at Lind Funeral Home, 805 W Third St., Jamestown, New York. This will be followed by a Christian memorial service to be held at 5 p.m. Saturday with the Rev. Daniel S. Rumfelt, chaplain of the Lutheran Home officiating.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum Fund, 418 Spring Street, Jamestown, 14701. The Lucille Wright Museum, 300 North Main St. Jamestown, will be open to the public in Joe’s honor on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, from noon-2 p.m. Admission will be free. Donations to the museum can be made in his name by either cash or check.
You may leave a condolence to Joe’s family online at Lind Funeral Home.