Joseph Straub Sr.
Joseph John Straub, Sr., of Whittemore passed away Jan. 17, 2019, in his home surrounded by his children. He lived a joyous life for 89 years.
The eldest child of Joseph J. and Catherine Regina (Walsh) Straub, Joe was born at home in New York City, Queens County, N.Y., on Jan. 5, 1930. He grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and graduated from East Rockaway High School. Joe earned his bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Notre Dame in 1952 and his law degree from Notre Dame in 1955.
During his freshman year at Notre Dame, he met Mary Cash, a St. Mary’s of Notre Dame freshman, at a tea dance. They married Aug. 25, 1951, just before the start of their senior years.
Joe and Mary started their family the same year Joe started law school. Jobs were scarce, but ND Athletic Director Moose Krause got Joe a job. While Mary taught at a local Catholic grade school, Joe took classes during the day and worked at a car mat factory at night. Married student housing was a small village of WWII-surplus barracks called, Vetville. Joe was “mayor” there for a year. Their first three children were born while living in South Bend, Ind.
He was admitted to the New York Bar and the family moved to Freeport, N.Y., in 1955 where two more children were born before the family moved to Algona, in 1958. The final nine children were all born in Algona, bringing the total to 14.
Upon moving to Algona, Joe joined the law firm of Linnan & Lynch. He later served as county attorney, then worked in private practice until being appointed a judge for the Iowa District Court in 1987. After taking mandatory retirement at 79, he joined his son, Joe III, at the Straub Law Office, practicing as a mediator and private attorney. Joe had just announced his of-counsel semi-retirement at the time of his passing.
One of the accomplishments that gave Joe the most joy was joining the diaconate of the Sioux City Diocese. After a five-year course of study, Joe was ordained a permanent deacon, and for 37 years he visited the sick, counseled engaged couples, preached, and stayed in touch with his community through word, sacrament and charity.
Joe loved a journey. During one of his visits to Rome he served as a deacon at a mass at the Vatican with Pope John Paul II. He visited his beloved Ireland 14 times, taking the entire family on one of the trips. About 20 years ago, Joe had heart surgery and had to cancel a trip to Ireland. The following year he made the trip and even climbed Croagh Patrick, the highest peak in Ireland. For years Joe’s cardiologist proudly displayed a photo of his patient on the summit.
Joe was supportive of his children’s education and was active in supporting Bishop Garrigan Schools. He was instrumental in bringing the Head Start program to Kossuth County. A life-long learner, he took a course in Gaelic while in Ireland and studied German and Portuguese before traveling to those countries.
Joe loved traveling to Notre Dame for football games and was a member of the alumni association and the Sycamore Trust. While in college Joe boxed in the Bengal Bouts. He was also an avid Mets fan. He remained active in sports for many years, coaching Little League and junior high football and was a high school football referee.
The Iowa Supreme Court appointed Joe to review and recommend updates to the Iowa Criminal Code, and he served on the faculty of the Iowa Judges School to teach judges about changes in the criminal code. He was an active member of the Iowa Bar Association, the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, and on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Judges Association. As a young attorney shortly after moving to Iowa, Joe was appointed to provide counsel for a defendant who could not read, taking his case to the Iowa Supreme Court. Joe’e efforts were mentioned in the court’s decision.
Joe was active as chair of the Kossuth County Democrat Party. He took an organizational role in Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, and he and Mary were invited to attend the inaugural ball. He was instrumental in the transition of St. Ann’s Hospital to the Kossuth Regional Health Center and later served as chair of the health center. He was a member of Rotary Club and other civic organizations.
Joe was a member of St. Michael’s Parish in Whittemore, the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus. He served in the diocesan Cursillo movement and was active in the Kossuth County pro-life movement. He served on many committees for his parish and the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City.
Joe loved a good joke, a dry wit, music, dancing, traveling, winning a good case, God, and his family. At Christmas he hosted over 45 of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the holiday dinner. But for all of his professional, personal and civic accomplishments, the one his children most admire was the great care he took of his wife Mary during her 17-year illness.
Those who know Joe wouldn’t be surprised to find that upon learning his days were numbered, Joe called to cancel all future medical appointments and continued to orchestrate business. Joe Straub died at peace with death, but with plenty on his agenda for the upcoming months. He was social and steady to the end.
Joe is survived by 12 of his children: Cathy (Steve) Jayjack, Don Straub, Mary (Mike) LaVelle, Lisa (Randy) Milbrath, Pete (Mely) Straub, Tom (Nancy) Straub, Jim (Kira Barclay) Straub, Monica (Joe Kennedy) Straub, Pat (Josh Wilkes)Straub, Frank Straub, Ed Straub and Emily (Scott) Guilliatt; his daughter-in-law Deb; 29 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and three sisters: Doris, Virginia and Mary Ann (Don). He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Fr. Robert Paul; two brothers-in-law, Fred and Jerry; and in the past year, his wife Mary and two sons, Joe and Bob.
A visitation and wake take place Friday, Jan. 25, beginning at 4 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m., followed by a Knights of Columbus Rosary. at St. Michael’s Parish Center, Whittemore. A Mass of Christian Burial is Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Michael’s Church. Burial is in St. Michael's Cemetery in Whittemore.
Many thanks to the staff at Kossuth Regional Health Center and to Dr. Mike Lampe for the care given to Joe, and to Teri Boland and Melody Frideres for all their help. Memorials may be directed to Bishop Garrigan Schools Straub Family Tuition Fund or the Kossuth Regional Health Center Foundation. Oakcrest Funeral Services, Whittemore, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be left to www.oakcrestfuneralservices.com.