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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Samuel “Joe” Brockway was devoted to both his family and his community. He was the sort of person who was always doing for others, and he always gave everything his all. Joe had farming in his blood, and he took great pride in passing his passion for farming on to his grandson. A hardworking man of honor and courage, he will never be forgotten.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Things were particularly difficult for the agricultural industry as a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Although times were tough, cities, communities, and families came together to do whatever they could to weather the storm. Despite the trials around them, Samuel and Julia (Everett) Brockway were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their lives as they were anticipating the birth of their new baby as spring began to appear on the horizon in Vicksburg, Michigan, in 1936. Their wait was over on April 5th when the baby boy they named Samuel Joseph made his arrival. Raised on the Brockway Historical Farm in Brady Township, he was the oldest of four as he was joined in his family by his siblings, Judy, Pete and Connie.
From the time he was a young boy Joe was known for his strong work ethic. He helped wth the farming operation both with the horses and farming. He was devoted to his grandfather,
Merton Brockway, who taught Joe the fundamentals of grain farming as well as raising cattle. While growing up he raised rabbits and sold them to the Beatty Grocery in Vicksburg.
Joe attended local schools including Vicksburg High School. He was active in FFA and agricultural activities, and in addition to holding down his studies he worked for Jerry Fitzgerald setting pins at the Vicksburg Bowling Alley and also at Purcel Clark’s filling station.
After graduating from Vicksburg High School in 1954, Joe began working for American Wire Cloth Company in Parchment, supplying wires for paper machines for the manufacturing of paper. He assisted in the invention of the ultrasonic welder to patch screens on paper machines. Joe continued working at American Wire Cloth Co. until 1989 when he bought the company and then continued to own and operate the business for 12 more years. The only time Joe set his work aside was to serve in the Army when he was drafted during the Korean Conflict, serving in Korea.
Not to be forgotten during his years in high school was Joe’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Maxine Cantwell, and they became high school sweethearts after starting to date during their junior year. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Joe and Maxine were married on October 15, 1955. Together they welcomed their daughter, Anne, into their hearts and home. Later on, Joe was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he took such pride in teaching his grandson the love of the land and to find pride in farming.
Throughout his life Joe was always one to be busy. In addition to his work, he spent his lifetime caring for his farm and tending to the needs of his cattle. Aside from farming, Joe’s passion was basketball. He coached junior pro basketball for four years and enjoyed seeing the athletes develop through their years on the varsity team. Joe and Maxine could frequently be found at many school activities, especially basketball games and band concerts when the grandchildren were involved.
With unending dedication to the people he loved, Joe Brockway was a man of his word. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way. Joe could be strong-willed, but he was also one of the most kindhearted and generous people around. Life will never be the same without Joe here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Brockway, Samuel “Joe,” of Vicksburg, passed away on Friday, November 23, 2018 at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Maxine; daughter Anne (John) Boers; two grandchildren: Joseph (Holly) Boers; Amanda (Kevin) O’Malley; one great grandson: Henry O’Malley and another one on the way. He is also survived by his sister, Judy Foote and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents: Samuel and Julia Brockway; one sister: Connie Welcher; and one brother Milo “Pete” Brockway. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2 to 4pm at the McCowen & Secord Life Story Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The funeral Service will be held on Monday at 1pm at the funeral home with Pastor Dan Kelly officiating. Burial at Vicksburg Cemetery. Please visit Joe’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com where you can read his life story, sign the guestbook, and share a memory. Those who wish may make contributions to the Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan and/or Vicksburg Foundation.