Funeral Mass for Joe Stastny was Saturday, October 2 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Wagner. Burial was in the parish cemetery, rural Wagner with military honors. Peters Funeral Home in Wagner was in charge of arrangements.
Joseph J. Stastny Jr. was born June 21, 1925, at Wagner, the eldest of Joseph Sr. and Helen Stastny’s thirteen children. He passed away with his children praying over him on Monday, September 27, 2021, at the Good Samaritan Society in Lennox. Joe attained the age of 96 years, three months and six days.
In his youth, Joe, also kindly referred to as Pepik, Josef and Joey, only spoke Czech. Frightened by the English-speaking students, he tried to wrestle his way off the Model T school bus on his first day of school. Joe attended school in Ravinia to the 8th grade and attained his General Education Diploma in 1985. Joe grew up planting check row corn which he harvested by hand with a team of mules pulling a bang board wagon sometimes long into the SD winters. He would say, “The mules always plodded to the field at the start of the day and would race to come home even with a loaded wagon.” Joe lived and farmed for 87 of his 96 years at the ‘Stastny Corner’. The years of picking corn, milking cows by hand, pitching hay, fixing fence, shelling corn, and picking rocks built incredible strength in his hands and founded perseverance and patience in his heart. Joe Stastny was drafted to serve in WWII; however, his parents requested and received a farm deferment. Joe was also drafted for the Korean War and served stateside in the US Army. Joe was deemed a ‘confirmed’ bachelor as all but one of his siblings were married before he met the love of his life at the Skylon Ballroom in Hartington, NE. He was united in marriage to Mary Ann Kathol on October 8, 1963, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Bow Valley, NE. Joe and Mary Ann together continued to raise crops, cows, chickens and their most cherished, their five children, in the home they built together at the ‘Stastny Corner’. Fences built to last, start with setting a solid and strong corner post. Families that last, have the same foundation. Joe was a solid and strong corner post, set well.
Joe, a man of faith, was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Wagner and became a member of the Knights of Columbus at the age of 18. He would tip his cap whenever passing by a church and he could be found each night kneeling beside his bed saying his prayers. Joe loved polka music. He often said, “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” That was OK as he would carry Mary Ann’s accordion wherever her music flowed. His heart overflowed as he tapped his toes to the oom-pahs performed by his five children and his wife, The Stastny Family Polka Band. Joe was a steadfast farmer into his 80’s, continuing to fix fence and drive John Deere green. Working the soil and sowing seeds kept him young at heart. As his wife required more care, the ever-faithful Joe and Mary Ann moved to Yankton in 2012. Although he missed the farm, they were now closer to family and the next generation of crops, their grandchildren. In 2018 they moved to Lennox, ever close to family. Mary Ann passed away on September 7, 2018, a month shy of celebrating 55 years of marriage. On Monday, September 27, Joe was reunited in heaven with his bride and her likely asking, “What took you so long?” Joe’s words of wisdom, “Patience is a Virtue.”
The meaning of Stastny in Czech is lucky and happy. Many were lucky to have Joe as part of their lives and his ever-present Stastny smile sowed happiness throughout his life’s journey. “Ha, Ha, Ha…” Joe
Grateful and blessed for sharing his life were his son Charles (Margaret) Stastny, grandchildren, Mary and Joseph of Ankeny, IA; daughter Joan (Ryan) Renz grandchildren, Christina, Ellen and Nathan, of Lennox; son Wayne (Jantina) Nelson-Stastny grandchildren, Leona and Clay of Yankton; daughter Mary (Doug) Hahne, grandchildren Mason and Lauren (fiancé Chance White) of Hartington, NE and daughter Carol Stastny of Freeman; two brothers: John Stastny of Wagner and Tony (Donna) Stastny of Wagner; four sisters: Agnes Kokesh of Wagner, Ann (Jerome) Wagner of Pierre, Rose (Dennis) Koupal of Wagner and Martha (Pat) Uecker of Rapid City and many relatives and friends.
Joe was preceded in death his wife, Mary Ann; siblings: Franklin in infancy, Mary in infancy, Helen Cuka, Dorothy Cuka, Mildred Cap and Alice (Kokesh) Korte.