Remembering Joe

"I feel more blessed and fortunate than most people," says Joe Rosenblum. And it's not hard to believe this. For Joe, in his tenth decade of life, is a busy man and doesn't seem to be slowing down.

My friend, Joe, was born in Boston and attended schools there. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked in a variety of engineering/technical positions, such as a product engineer in cinematography (i.e. design and development of photo equipment), project engineer for development of business machines, and in charge of manufacturing plant layout for devices and machinery for the Armed Forces during WWII. This latter position, deemed an essential occupation for the war, got him a deferment although he was 1A.

During the second World War, while working for Remington-Rand, General Douglas MacArthur was the CEO and Joe had a chance to meet him. "It was an honor to shake his hand," says Joe. While working in Norwalk, CT, at Olivetti, Joe played in the Norwalk Community Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra had a distinguished list of professional artists, such as Beverly Sills and Yo Yo Ma. Joe studied the violin at the age of thirteen, and as a high school cadet he started as a drummer in the marching band ("Not my cup of tea," he says). He also found a bugle and bought a mouthpiece and joined the bugle corps. (In his high school, he had compulsory military training.) He studied the clarinet and played that in the band as well. But, since he had played the violin in junior high, he ended by joining the high school orchestra, which gave him the opportunity to play with the combined Boston high school orchestras. During his long years in Boston he played in the Boston Civic Orchestra, the WPA orchestra during WWII, and the "little symphony" while he studied there. Obviously, Joe had found his niche in any orchestra that he encountered or would be near in the future. Indeed, he has been a member of the ICO since its inception in 2001. Prior to that, he participated in the orchestra at the Community School for many years.

Joe is a widower. His wife was an attorney who gave up the law after they had children. She and Joe were married for sixty-four years. He has three sons, and two of Joe's brothers are twins, and he has twin grandsons. He also has a great-grandson. When you are in Joe's house, there are many photographs of family everywhere as you move around the main rooms. Those of us who know Joe are aware of his visits to different members of the family, for they love to have him near as those of us here in Ithaca enjoy being in his company. If you open his appointment book, the spaces are filled with notations for travels and for concerts. As Joe says, "My calendar is full!"

For a man who plays in two orchestras, attends lots of concerts, and travels regularly, one might wonder how he has time to do anything else, but Joe enjoys reading and television ("I watched Ted Koppel a lot, until he retired, and I like Barbara Walters," says Joe). He likes news programs, and gets his books from the library---some fiction, biographies, and he likes the book sales that the Friends of the Library have twice a year ("That's where I buy my books most of the time," he says). He also attends theater productions at Cornell and Ithaca College.

Wait, wait, don't stop---Joe has been a lifelong volunteer since moving to Ithaca. "I fell in love with Ithaca when I visited it," he says. Joe's philosophy of life: "Keep busy and active at all times, doing the things you like to do, and do the things you must do!" If you go past Joe's house, you might find him mowing the lawn, or shoveling a bit of snow ("I just make enough room for the tires and the bottom of the car takes care of the rest"). So you know this is not a man sitting around hoping for something to happen. He is a force that makes things happen, a man who is important to the lives of not only his large family, but to those of us who are lucky enough to say he is a friend.

---Margaret Perry, 2010