Joseph ‘Joe’ Charles LaPorte
Feb. 25, 1921 - Feb. 17, 2013
Joseph “Joe” Charles LaPorte of Waukesha died Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, surrounded by his loving family at Lighthouse of Brookfield. Joe was born Feb. 25, 1921, in Milwaukee, the son of Sicilian immigrants. His father, Filippo, arrived in Milwaukee in 1904 and sent for his wife, Vincenza (Serni), a year later. The couple had nine children together, Joseph being the third youngest. Joe married the love of his life and his high school sweetheart, the late Marion Gengl, on Dec. 27, 1941.
Joe started his career at International Harvestor as an industrial engineer. Joe enlisted and served in the 543rd Ordinance Heavy Maintenance Co. as a Technician 4th Class (sergeant). As a tech. sergeant, Joe prepared all equipment for shipment to the Pacific for use in that theater of war and was awarded three Battle Stars while serving with the 36th Division. Joe was separated from his wife and 3-month-old daughter for three years while serving in the armed forces. While serving in Germany, Joe received the news of his younger brother, Naval Corpsman Sam LaPorte, being killed in Iwo Jima.
After being honorably discharged from the military, Joe returned home and they had their second daughter and he went back to work for International Harvestor. He and his wife then opened their family tavern and restaurant LaPorte’s Tap. After owning their own business, they eventually sold the tavern after 17 years and Joe went to work for General Casting again as an industrial engineer. At that time, Joe and his wife were building a home in Waukesha and he began to develop his career in politics. Joe will always be remembered as a public servant who represented and spoke for all the people of Waukesha.
Joe was a four-time elected alderman in Waukesha in 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1977. In 1978, he was elected mayor of Waukesha and held that office until 1982. He served on the Building and Grounds Committee (three years) as chairman, served on the Personnel Committee (two years), was chairman on the Committee of Aging, a member of the Water Utility Commission, was instrumental in establishing the school busing program beyond the (two) mile limit and served as city council president. He returned to his political career in 1985 and simultaneously served as alderman and county supervisor.
Joe was the first mayor to serve as an ex efficio member of the Chamber of Commerce. He was instrumental and worked tirelessly to organize and implement the State Office Building in downtown Waukesha. Joe solicited help from legislators, the Common Council, Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association. This included letter writing and several trips to Madison by the mayor and several citizens. As a civic-minded community servant, he also established the first senior citizen discount program as well as started the mass transit program in Waukesha.
Joe was a past Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus (Waukesha), Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #721 member, American Legion Post #8 member, Waukesha Lodge of Elks #400 member, Waukesha Memorial Hospital Board member, Navigator of 4th Degree (Waukesha Assembly), and longtime member and usher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Of his many accomplishments and years of service to the Waukesha community, Joe was most proud and passionate of his family.
Joe will be deeply missed by his daughters, Virginia “Ginger” (Bill) Warga of Waukesha and Kathleen “Kathy” (Bob) Hoffmeier of New Berlin; grandchildren, Jodie (Dr. Thomas) Stekiel, William Warga III, Brian (Mary) Hoffmeier and Joseph (Katie) Hoffmeier; great-grandchildren, Rebecca, Andrew, James, Nicholas and Leah; sister, Nina Minessale of Brookfield; as well as many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife; his parents; four brothers, Anthony, Salvatore, Antonino and Filippo; and three sisters Sarah, Constantina and Natalie.
The visitation for Joe will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at the Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, 237 N. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha. The Mass of Christian Burial will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 822 N. East Ave., Waukesha. The Rev. William Key will be officiating. Burial will immediately follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7301 W. Nash St., Milwaukee.
Memorials are appreciated to the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, 620 S. 76th St., #160, Milwaukee, WI 53214; or to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 822 N. East Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186.
The family of Joe would like to thank the staff of the Lighthouse of Brookfield and extend their appreciation for the gentle care and kindness they showed Joe in making it his home.
Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Pre-Planning Services is serving the family. For further information, please call 542-6609, or for directions, an online obituary or to leave a condolence, visit www.WaukeshasFuneralHome.com.