On October 16, 2023, Joseph (Joe) F. Krystofinski Jr. left this world to be with Our Lord. He will be missed forever. His unconventional style and approach to life was unique. He touched the hearts of many. His life experiences were countless and vast.
Born on April 21, 1946, to Joseph Sr and Helen (Mendick) Krystofinski, (first-generation) Polish immigrants) and an older sister, Lorraine (Krystofinski) Digilio; he grew up within a family of traditional Polish culture. Joe was raised by his parents and grandparents, Albert and Frances (Whelzer), in Passaic, New Jersey. Albert and Frances Krystofinski had made the brave journey to this country so many decades ago. The journey that would be the beginning of the Krystofinski (Krzystofinski) legacy.
Nothing was more important to Joe than family from an early age until he closed his eyes to leave us. As so many of you who knew him, life with Joe was never dull, to say the least. Growing up in Brick, New Jersey, his boyhood dog, Spotty, was everywhere Joe was or wasn’t. Back then, Spotty had the luxury of having the neighborhood as his playground, and everyone knew him. One memorable Thanksgiving, a neighbor lady had put her cooked turkey (the family meal) near an open window to cool; it didn’t stay there long. From that time on, Spotty was infamous, and let’s say there was hell to pay. That was a story that has been retold for decades.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Joe and his father were avid Ham radio operators. They made friends around the world that would last a lifetime. Growing up at the Jersey shore, there were family beach days and fishing trips. Joe graduated from Montclair University with a Bachelor of Arts and a teaching certification. He was his family's first member to achieve a higher education degree. He went on to teach English at Toms River South High School in Toms River, New Jersey. Simultaneously, Joe founded and operated Cambridge Contracting Company, a residential home-building company. By 1976, at age 32, Joe was making his way.
Joe Krystofinski and Jill Fischer met through a blind date in the summer of 1978 and would marry in 1982 at St Ursula’s Church in Fountain Hill, PA. Joe and Jill had six dogs who lived better than most, continued to remodel and flip homes, and finally settled back in Brick, New Jersey. Their first child, Paige, was born in the last house Joe would build himself. Two years later, they moved to Newtown, PA, where their second child, Michael, was born. Five days after Michael was born, they moved to Cape Coral, Fla. Jill’s extended family resided there and in Miami and the Florida Keys. Family beach trips, fishing in the mangroves, and at a moment's notice, Joe would pack up Michael and Paige in the family boat and head off to Sanibel Island. He would anchor the boat near shore and carry the kids, a packed lunch, and the sandcastle necessities onto the beach for the day. In 1990, while in Cape Coral, Florida, Joe passed the Series 7 Exam to become a Financial Planner with Shearson and Lehman in Fort Myers, Florida.
A few years later, the family moved to Pipersville, Pennsylvania. It was here that Joe became a fixture at Gayman Elementary School. He was involved in Paige and Michael’s elementary school activities, projects, and parent-teacher assignments. In addition, Joe was a catechist for ten years at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Sister Christa absolutely loved Joe, and he was always there for whatever Sister and the church needed.
Building was one of Joe’s many passions. One example is when his children wanted a playhouse. In true Joe style, he and Michael, who was 3 ½ years old at the time, built what the neighbors would name “the condo”—a two-story playhouse with a porch, actual front door, and the ultimate sandbox underneath. Michael and Paige would spend many hours with Duchess (beloved family miniature pincher), their friends, and each other, building castles and making onion grass soup.
Joe spent many years with Paige during her softball pitching career at Holicong Middle School, Central Bucks East, and George Mason University. Softball became another of Joe’s loves; he coached, formed softball teams, traveled wherever necessary, and was always ready to be more than just a part of things.
Joe continued his interest in the financial market as a commodities trader and officially retired in August 2000.
After the children graduated college, Joe and Jill divorced; however, they remained best friends until the end. Joe moved back to Cape Coral, Florida, in a home purchased together with Jill, and for seven years, he enjoyed the west coast of Florida. During those years in Cape Coral, he remodeled the Cape Coral home on the coastal waters, minutes from Sanibel Island. Joe was a man who made friends wherever he was, whether it was at the grocery store, Walmart, or walking to the mailbox. He touched hearts with his personality and love of debate.
In 2017, hurricane Irma hit Cape Coral directly, and with Joe’s declining health, he returned to the family home in Pipersville to live with his son Michael and Petri, his beloved parrot. The History Channel, trips to the Quakertown Farmers Market, becoming a late-in-life sushi consumer, walks with Michael through the neighborhood, and phone calls with Paige were just a few of the ways Joe enjoyed the last years of his life. Joe loved to catch up with current events with neighbors Barry and Chuck; a good debate on current events was usually the topic of interest. It was here that, Michael cared for his father for the remainder of his life.
Through these good times, challenging times, tears, and hugs, these were just a few ways Joe Krystofinski spent the last days of his life with the family he loved and who loved him.
As Joe would say, “It is a gift from God to know that your time is near and to be able to spend time with those you love. To say what you feel, to do what you want…sometimes a little more than everyone bargained for…, was something that not many get to do before leaving this world.” And anyone who knew Joe knows he did things his way and, of course, on his own time. He would always say: “It will all work out.”
On the evening of Monday, October 16, 2023, surrounded by his family, as was his wish, our Joe closed his eyes and met with (his words), “Baby Jesus.” He will be missed forever. He is survived by his children, Paige Krystofinski and Michael Krystofinski, former wife, Jill Krystofinski, sister Lorraine Digilio, niece Donna Siravo (David Siravo), nephew John Digilio, and grand-niece Vanessa Siravo.
A viewing will be held at the Varcoe-Thomas Funeral Home, 344 North Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, on Sunday, October 29, 2023, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Afterward, family and friends are invited to the Buttonwood Grill at 5:00 pm to celebrate Joe’s life.
A memorial mass will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 235 E. State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, on Saturday, November 4, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. The family will receive their friends from 9:30-10:30 a.m. before the funeral mass.
Remembrances may be made in the form desired by friends. Flowers (https://varcoethomas-funeral-home-of-doylestown-inc.tributestore.com/sympathy-landing?oId=29590418&fbclid=IwAR0HS_7qxo2ktPOx4zkFv7mkt1lwf2Kwfq73DmTpvsj4AiVDl_wOhdjKeZc ) and contributions to The National Spine Health Foundation (https://spinehealth.org/donate/) are both welcome.
Send condolences to www.varcoethomasfuneralhome.com
A Tribute by Paige Krystofinski -
To Joseph F Krystofinski Jr, family was not only the heart of his life but also its guiding light. He poured immeasurable love and dedication into the very walls of the first house he built, where he proudly brought home his firstborn. As a nurturing father, he stepped into roles he could never have foreseen: with gentle hands, he dried and combed what he lovingly referred to as his little girl’s “spun gold” hair—a gesture forever imprinted on her heart. Every night, under the soft glow of a bedside lamp, he shared tales from the 'Book of Virtues', instilling in his children invaluable life lessons and a moral compass to guide them always. For him, cooking was a tribute to his rich Polish heritage and a tangible display of his love. Every meal symbolized family unity and togetherness. His actions consistently resonated with the message that his family was his entire world.
Joe’s Catholic faith was his compass, his life echoing Matthew 7:12. Over a decade of Sundays saw him imparting Christian values to young minds as a catechist at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He believed in the power of giving over receiving, of faith over fortune, and of perseverance over adversity.
A quiet force of dedication, Joe never craved recognition. He was the selfless guardian, always placing others' needs above his own. During one of many of his daughter’s softball tournaments across state lines, there was a shortage of hotel rooms. Joe told his daughter he found a spare room. Yet, as she’d only learn years later, he had slept in the parking lot the entire weekend just to see her play.
Life, however, threw its curveballs. An accident involving a tractor trailer resulted in a burst fracture of his spine, threatening his mobility with confinement to a wheelchair. His entire family was heartbroken, but Joe always put on a brave face; he never sought pity. But Joe was made of resilient stock. Those who knew Joe best knew he would never give in, never, never, never. Powered by an indefatigable spirit, a boundless love for his family, and an unyielding Catholic faith, he didn't just walk again, he became a living testament of resilience. Joe defied odds. With unwavering faith and determination, Joe walked tall – coaching his daughter to a pitching scholarship, instilling the ethos of never yielding and always persevering. Joe went on to never miss any of his daughter’s college games, come rain or shine; nothing could stop him from seeing her manifest the fruits of their collective labor.
Joe's fervent advocacy for education, having taught himself English proficiency, myriad subjects, including graduate studies, wasn't limited to just words. His actions bore testimony to his convictions. He was the cornerstone, constantly pushing his children to chase academic excellence, reminding them that it was the surest path to empowerment. It is no surprise that his children, bolstered by his unwavering support and belief, have worked to continually achieve remarkable heights in their academic and professional lives. Joe’s dedication to his children’s academics since pre-school ultimately evolved from extra cursive practice into phone calls from across the country with his daughter, a UCLA graduate student, to discuss novel immunotherapy research concepts. Joe had an uncanny ability to see things from a fresh perspective, often challenging his children to think deeper, question more, and reach higher. Even when the subjects went beyond his expertise, his insatiable curiosity and passion for knowledge made him the best study partner one could ask for.
For Joe, life was a game – one where you played with all their might and heart. While Joe may not get to witness all of his children's milestones and accomplishments, he undeniably laid the foundation for their journey. Sadly, he passed just a year and a half before his daughter's medical school graduation, a dream they shared together. As she moves forward, she will harness the strength her father instilled in her, with Joe's legacy echoing in her heart, best captured by Winston Churchill's words: "Never give in, never, never, never – except to convictions of honor and good sense."
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