Joseph Drnec
Joseph Drnec
Joseph Drnec
Joseph Drnec

Obituary of Joseph Frank Drnec

Joseph Frank Drnec (May 10, 1933 to June 13, 2023)

Adored family man and US Army veteran, Joseph Frank Drnec, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loved ones, in the early morning of June 13th, 2023. Joe was a gentle hearted, unwaveringly kind, artist, skier, chef, glider pilot, protector, and jokester, who will be forever treasured by the beloved family he kept close to him all his life. Born in Chicago, May 10, 1933, Joe was destined to fulfill the American Dream. The Great Depression caused Joe’s family to move back to Czechoslovakia when he was just one year old, approximately five years before the start of World War II. Trapped in Europe during the war, on various occasions, they were forced to house German and Russian soldiers. The family home in Czechoslovakia was tightly gripped by chaos and upheaval for the war’s duration, but was still a beautiful and welcoming oasis for U.S. troops who were often invited by Joe’s father, Gustav, to share a meal with the family. Gustav had built the simple but gorgeous villa, complete with a "bee house," where he raised and collected honey from a colony of bees. The Drnec estate was an attractive place to stay for soldiers as they occupied the Czechoslovakian countryside largely because Gustav spoke six languages, including German and Russian. Gustav and his wife, Anna, decided to keep a book available to all the "guests" of the house, for anyone who stayed with them, soldier or friend, to write a note or sketch an image of their stay. Two generations later, this book has earned the name "The Bee Book," and sits comfortably on a bookshelf in Joe's living room in Colorado. It is a treasured family artifact, full of fascinating entries, that has felt the tender fingers of Joseph's children and grandchildren sift through its worn yet elegant pages. Joe’s experience in Czechoslovakia made him all the more grateful for the ideals of freedom in the United States. Gustav was thankfully able to secure passage to the US, but the communists forced them to leave behind everything they owned, apart from what could fit in a suitcase. In the States, Joe’s life continued to blossom. He attended Farragut High School, where he learned English under the mentorship of the school’s Czech instructors. Joe joined a Moravian dance group that performed all over Chicago, among his other hobbies of cooking, skiing, playing hockey, and painting. After high school, Joe graduated from the Chicago Art Institute to refine his artistic skills. In addition to working as a commercial artist, Joe produced a multitude of pastel and chalk paintings, most of them landscapes. Well into his adult life, Joe continued to draw, sketch, and paint; for income and for pleasure. Shortly after his work in commercial art, Joe began his career as a draftsman at Western Electric, a division of AT&T. However, after a short year, Joe was drafted into the army; thankfully, Western Electric was good to him, holding a position for him upon his return. Joe completed basic training in Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky in 1953, during the Korean War. He spent 18 months in the occupation in Germany, working in ordnance and record keeping, where he ordered equipment for his company; the last company sent from Kentucky to Germany. Joe shared his spirit of adventure with the men of his company. He organized skiing trips and other little expeditions. He had always been a lover of skiing, and being in the Army did not stop him from taking advantage of the Alps. Joe went on to enjoy taking his family on skiing excursions, and is remembered fondly for taking out chocolate from his pockets and yodeling on the ski lifts. Joe earned a free lifetime pass to Winter Park in Colorado where he volunteered as a ski instructor for the Handicapped Program for 20 years. After completing his service in the US Army, Joe returned to Western Electric as an Assoc. Engineer, and in the Summer of 1957, Joe met the love of his life, his cherished wife, Judy. Joe and Judy were married on October 10, 1959. For a short while, they lived in a basement suite of his parent’s home in Berwyn, Illinois, and in 1962, while living there they welcomed their first child, Tim. Joe began to grow into the role he had dreamt of since he was a boy; a family man. When Tim was a year old, they purchased their own home in Western Springs, Illinois, where shortly thereafter their second son Andy was born. Desiring to be closer to the Rocky Mountains, for skiing and other family-friendly adventures, Joe requested a transfer with Western Electric to Aurora, Colorado in 1965, where they rented a house for one year. Judy gave birth to surprise twin girls: Kristin and Nina in September of that same year. Joe had his hand in building a new home for his family in Aurora. He thought of everything when designing the house, from adding a little niche off the kitchen for a desk area for Judy, to even considering whether he would be driving into the sun in the morning and evening on his commute to work. The contractors used some of Joe's designs for the housing development in East Aurora. Joe’s home became host to countless Christmas dinners with his famous “Fish-Eye Soup,” Easter egg hunts, New Year’s brunch with Ebleskievers, and family game nights with Papa Murphy’s pizza; it was always a place of warmth and laughter. Joe continued to be a man of little adventures; he took his family mushroom hunting in the mountains, and in the early 1970s, Joe purchased a membership with a nature and wildlife preserve in Wyoming, the Flying X Ranch. “The Ranch” became a place of relaxation, adventure, and admiration of nature’s beauty for his family to be enjoyed for generations. Joe became “Grampy” to nine grandchildren: Jessica, Jordan, Lexi, James, Autumn, Annmarie, Blake, Gina, and Louis. James (28) brought much honor to Joe’s patriotic heart, as James serves as a Captain in the US Army. Joe’s jokes and tricks continue to be recited, as well as a shared memory nearly all the grandkids have of riding on Grampy’s lap as little ones to drive “the van” up at the Ranch. Joe was the most thoughtful of husbands, gentlest of fathers, and most fun of grandpas. Joe’s life was a miraculous journey, from growing up in a house he shared with enemy soldiers to passing into the arms of his heavenly Father surrounded by the most tender familial love. In his last days, the family gathered at Joe’s home, leaning on one another and reminiscing about all the incredible memories Joe had made possible. So many would call the American Dream a myth, but as Joe would have told you himself, he lived it. We, the family of Joe Drnec, want to thank each one of you for your kind words, prayers, and expressions of your love and sympathy as we honor the life of our dear loved one. God bless you all. Memorial donations can be made to St. Joseph’s Indian School or the Denver Dumb Friends League.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Drnec, please visit Tribute Store

Fort Logan National Cemetery

9:15 am - 9:45 am
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Fort Logan National Cemetery, staging area "C"
4400 West Kenyon Ave., Denver, CO 80236
Denver, Colorado, United States
Share Your Memory of