Joseph Poracsky found peace on April 8th, when he passed away comfortably at Bridge Haven in Lawrence due to complications from Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. Joseph was born on June 21, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Andrew and Mary (Anzalone) Poracsky.
He attended Waterford High School in Waterford, Connecticut. He then attended Clark University where he played on the varsity basketball team while dreaming of starting for the Boston Celtics. He served his country in the Navy and Naval Reserves while earning a Master’s degree in Geography at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. from KU in 1983 in Geography and was a professor of Geography for 31 years at Portland State University, teaching cartography, remote sensing, and urban forestry. He also served on and chaired the Portland Urban Forestry Commission.
The master of dad jokes, Joe was quick to laugh, had a smile that could light up the northern hemisphere and had more patience than Oregon has fir trees.
He enjoyed reading about and traveling to Italy. If the teaching hadn’t worked out, he could have opened up a ristorante in Sicily as he was a magician in the kitchen.
In addition to food, he enjoyed running races and through the forested trails of Portland. The Oregon Coast was a place of rest and relaxation for him, regardless of the weather. Watching KU basketball games on TV with family and friends was a weekly social event where he somehow managed to stay completely calm even during those last second nail biters. His preference for Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison was something his children did not truly appreciate until they were old enough to realize that lyrics actually can mean something. He also loved going to the movies and would see just about anything once. He channeled his inner Phog Allen and coached the Lawrence Boys Club basketball team for a few years in the early 80s.
Joe truly loved his family and was always there for them, whether it was meeting them at the ER after a car wreck, visiting colleges when his children were in high school, or helping his son move various times up and down the West Coast. He quietly offered his pragmatic advice, which his children should have followed more often. Babysitting his grandchildren was something he enthusiastically did and loved showing them off to his students, fellow professors and any stranger within earshot.
His wife, MJ Riehl, lives in Portland, Oregon. He has two stepsons, Troy and Darren. His sister, Fran (Michael) Hastedt, and brother, Rocco, live in Connecticut. His first wife, Laura Stull, lives in Lawrence. His daughter Kristina, son Rome, daughter-in-law Nikki, and four grandchildren (Finley, Sawyer, Ayden and Sydney), all of Lawrence, consider themselves the luckiest kids in the world to have been able to call him dad/pops/poppi. They only wish they had more time with him.
Joseph was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law, Barbara Musorofiti.
There will be a celebration of Joe’s life later this summer in Portland, Oregon.
Memorial contributions may be made in Joseph’s name to Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association and the National Audubon Society and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.