Joseph Bart Svoboda – Joseph B. Svoboda, 81, of Ruckersville, Virginia, previously from Endicott, New York, departed this life to heaven eternal on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
Joe was born on May 22, 1940 in Czechoslovakia, which is now the Czech Republic, to his parents Joseph and Margaret Sochor Svoboda. He came to the United States at the age of 9 along with his parents and his sister. He is predeceased by his parents and a son, Gary Martin Svoboda.
Joe is survived by his devoted wife, Sharon Kotrč Svoboda, whom he met at a Polka Dance that he was sponsoring where her Uncle George’s Polka Band was playing. They were engaged after two weeks. After Joe met with her parents and asked for her hand, Sharon’s father, Joseph Kotrč, gave his blessing but added that there would be no returns. They married in 1965 and raised a family in Endwell and Maine, NY. They enjoyed getting together with friends, attending plays, and mostly, polka dancing. He cherished his loving wife and his family.
His remaining four children treasure the memory of their father and all that he taught them in life:
Susan (Mick) Reynolds of Liverpool, NY; Bart (Tammy) of Ruckersville, VA; Karl (Monica) of Fort Lauderdale, FL; and Matt of Charlottesville, VA.
Joe adored his four granddaughters and the time he spent with each of them: Tiffany Svoboda, Lexi (Michael) Fowler, Margaret Reynolds, and Sharon Reynolds. He encouraged them to “always do the right thing, even if no one is watching.”
He enjoyed visits with his three great-granddaughters Isabell, Claira-Lynn, and Hallie who always brought a big smile to his face. He leaves behind a sister, Marie Berman of Crozet, VA and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends who will miss him dearly.
Joe was a larger-than-life figure in his family and community. He was forever grateful for the great courage and sacrifice his parents made in immigrating to the United States. He loved his Czech heritage and was very proud to be an American citizen. He was fluent in Czech in both speaking and writing. He was the President of the Endicott Czechoslovak Moravan Club and wrote their bylaws and constitution. He loved Czech music and Mitch Miller music and enjoyed singing. He was a great dancer and particularly enjoyed dancing the polka and the waltz.
Joe graduated from Union Endicott High School in 1958 and went on to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Broom Community College. He moved to California to work for Xerox as a technician and returned to Endicott to work for IBM and attended their Apprenticeship Program for Mechanical Engineers where he graduated top of his class. When the opportunity arose, he went to work for Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) as a Mechanical Drafting Instructor while also teaching computer aided drafting. While at Broome-Tioga BOCES, he founded and became the first president of the Teachers Union. It was during his time at Broome-Tioga BOCES that he earned his Master of Science degree in Education from SUNY Oswego and began teaching the teacher training courses for SUNY Oswego. Also, while at Broome-Tioga BOCES, Joe served on the committee charged with writing the state syllabus and state tests for Drafting. After working for Broome-Tioga BOCES for over 25 years, he retired to enjoy travel and time with his loving wifey and continued to teach part-time for a number of years.
As a community servant, Joe was on the committee to establish and construct the County Office Building in Binghamton, NY. As a result, his name is listed on the cornerstone of the building. This is fitting as Joe was a cornerstone for his family and community. He served as a Broome County Legislator for seven 2-year terms. He was a very popular legislator and wrote and sponsored many bills that are still in place today. At the time, the local press called him “the maverick legislator” because of his many stands against both parties. The press once reported that the Broome County Legislature had 3 parties: Republican, Democratic, and Svoboda.
He retired from the legislature at the beginning of his 8th term due to the death of his son, Gary who was 17 years old when he perished in a car accident only a few blocks from home. Joe established a scholarship fund in memory of Gary for outstanding academics by a student on the Maine-Endwell High School Golf Team. Gary was an outstanding golfer and played on the high school team.
There is so much more to say about Joe and not enough time or space. He was a dear son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend who will be sincerely missed. We are better people to have known him and blessed to have him love us.
One of his most quoted statements, and there were many, was “the helping hand is at the end of your arm”. In memory of Joe, please help someone, extend a hand, or share a kind gesture.
To honor Joe’s request, a celebration of his life will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105
or Shriners Hospitals for Children, ATTN: Processing Center, P.O. Box 947765, Atlanta, GA 30394.
An online guestbook is available at www.ryanfuneral.com
Ryan Funeral Home of Ruckersville is in charge of arrangements.