Joseph Otto Bouzek
Joseph Bouzek, passed peacefully at home on August 17, 2018. He lived 96 happy years.
Joseph leaves behind his three children and their families; Karen (Bouzek) and Fred Wise; Robyn, Jeff, Zachery, and Addyson Ellis; Carson, Kalea, and Indy Wise; Joanne (Bouzek) and Jack Sims; Parker Sims and Sarah Bowlin; Haley Sims; David Bouzek and Henry Bernabel. Together they hope to carry on his example of a good life—one that is long, happy, healthy and full of love. Because Joe’s life was good. He would tell you so.
Joe was born to immigrant parents living in the Czechoslovakian enclave in Chicago. He spoke his first words of English after entering grade school. Once his family moved to California seeking the land of opportunity, Joe was forever captive to its beauty, warm sunshine and ocean breezes.
Joe embraced life early. He explored, examined, achieved and conquered. He was witty and funny. He danced, sang and acted in high school plays, crooned in college bands, and jitterbugged in Rose Bowl Parades.
Days after the US Navy lost 13 ships and over 2,000 sailors in the Battle of Java Sea, Joe enlisted in the US Navy. He was stationed in the Philippines near the end of the war under operation Downfall. After serving for 4 years he then remained in the Navy Reserves for another 13 years.
Joe saw the girl of his dreams, Dorothy Jean, as he performed on stage and she danced to his singing. Their short 3-month courtship led to a long and devoted 54-year marriage.
Joe became a successful businessman who started at the bottom and left at the top. He earned much more than monetary success during those working years. His colleagues, competitors, and new hires at all levels respected his fairness, work ethic, humor, and kindness. His business relationships continued long after the job ended.
Joe’s dedication to his work, however, took a toll on his health and his doctor warned “No more martini lunches, red meat, and soft cheeses. Time to clean up your diet!” So for the next 56 years, keeping his degenerative heart disease at bay, he became a living testament to proper diet and exercise.
Joe embraced retirement. He and Dottie settled permanently in their favorite place, Santa Barbara, California. They traveled and played with their children and grandchildren. They were active and full of fun.
Life took a tragic turn when Dottie unexpectedly passed away. Faced with overwhelming grief, he became an inspiration to all who knew him, rising up and carrying on with life. He sought old friendships and made new ones. He joined social groups to play golf, lawn bowling, and bridge. He attended happy hours at his club, joined Tuesday dinner group, dined and danced at the American Legion, entertained and hosted family gatherings at home.
Joe looked for the good. He engaged. He would welcome you with a compliment that you could lean into, absorbing his sincerity. He listened with interest. He gave generously.
When he lost his ability to walk securely and had to move from his Santa Barbara home, he was invited to join his son, David, at his home. It was an extraordinary opportunity to share time with family and develop deep relationships with those who cared for him. His appreciation for his new home was genuine. He greeted each day and each individual with gratitude through kind words and actions.
In Joe’s final months, once it became clear his body couldn’t keep pace with his spirit, he gave himself permission to have the things he had denied for so many years. He announced with glee, “I’d like one of those Hawaiian pizzas. Extra bacon, please!”
The family will have a private ceremony in Santa Barbara where Joe will rest beside his dear wife, Dottie—together again, sharing sunsets over the Pacific and its gentle ocean breezes.