Joseph Hajdu was the kindest, most caring man who delighted people with his warmth, sense of humor and generous nature. He was not someone consumed by material gains in life but by the satisfaction of putting his family and friends first, and he loved his family deeply with a large and benevolent heart.
The year was 1918, and our great nation was nearing the end of World War I, after four years of difficult and costly battle. It was a time of hope for so many, a hope for peace, and a hope for something better for our nation. In the town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John and Catherine (Brucher) Hajdu had their own reason for hope with the birth of their son, Joseph Henry, on December 22, 1918.
Joe was born in the family home at 405 East North Avenue on the east side of Milwaukee. He had a very large family and was the sixth of thirteen children (only 11 actually made it to adulthood though). As the family grew, they moved to 1813 East Windsor Place, also affectionately known as “Windsor Castle.” His parents were both immigrants (his father from Hungary and his mother from Luxembourg), who came to the United States in search of a better life. Joseph’s father worked as an electrician at Wisconsin Electric Power Company while his mother was a busy homemaker. Sadly, Joseph was just 16 when his mother died.
Joseph received his education at Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School and St. John’s Cathedral High, where he graduated in 1936. He then took his first job working at a flower shop for a few years before following the same patriotic calling of other young men of the time, and enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 30, 1943. However, due to injuries he sustained in an accident, he was discharged eight months later on September 11, 1943.
Once home in Milwaukee, Joseph went to work at Aqua Chem (later became Cleaver Brooks Aqua Chemical) in the credit department. Joe was responsible for researching and analyzing financial information for potential clients. He was soon promoted to Credit Manager and worked with many different people, nationally and internationally, as he managed accounts from all over the world. He took great pride in his work and especially enjoyed many close friendships with his co-workers. After Joseph retired in 1990, he stayed in contact with many of the good friends he had made there.
Aside from his fulfilling career, Joseph pretty much had one hobby that he really enjoyed; he loved entering contests of any kind. Over the years, he won a number of prizes from contests, including a washer and dryer and a brand new Ford Thunderbird, which he won from the Chesterfield Cigarette contest – and he didn’t even smoke! In fact, after winning, he was featured in a publication, sitting in the car with a cigarette in his mouth. Every time he won something, it just fueled his passion to see what else he could win.
Joseph was a very charming fellow, always well dressed and professional; he had a natural social talent that always left people smiling. Joseph enjoyed talking with his neighbors and keeping up on the happenings in their east side community. He possessed a very generous spirit and never hesitated to help someone in need, which didn’t just include family, but others less fortunate too. However, Joseph found the greatest happiness in the company of his family, among whom many considered him their “favorite Uncle.” He also enjoyed spending time with his longtime friend, Sadie, whom he traveled to Florida with frequently.
Later in life, Joseph developed dementia and eventually had to leave “Windsor Castle,” to live at Milwaukee Catholic Home, where he received great care over the last 2 ½ years. After an accelerated decline in recent weeks, Joe died on Sunday, May 23, 2010, at the age of 91. All who knew and loved Joseph will treasure his memory.
Joseph was the beloved brother of Ruth Hajdu. Further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Visitation will be on Thursday, May 27, at Three Holy Women Parish – Holy Rosary Church, 2011 N. Oakland Avenue from 9:30 a.m. until time of the Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery.
If desired, memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph’s Indian School (www.stjo.org) P.O. Box 100, Chamberlain, SD 57326, or St. Lawrence Seminary High School, 301 Church Street, Mt. Calvary, WI 53057-0500. Please visit Joseph’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may sign his online guest book or share a memory with his family. Arrangements handled by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Suminski/Weiss (414) 276-5122.
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