Joseph Edward Modrak, Sr.

Joseph Edward Modrak, Sr, - Rochester Cremation

Joseph Edward Modrak, Sr, died peacefully with family by his side at the Jewish Home of Rochester, New York on April 12, 2023 at the age of 86.

Joe, also known as Papa Joe and the Pudzu, was born in Canonsburg, PA to John and Anna Modrak.  He resided for most of his life in the Washington, DC area until he relocated to Rochester over two years ago to be closer to family due to illness.  He received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Mathematics from GWU. As a young man he served in the Air Force during peace times as a Meteorologist. He was a mathematician and computer programmer who developed computer programs for NASA and the Commerce Department and worked on the original Cray super computers. With his second wife, Lucy Modrak, they had a blended family of 9 children.  He loved his family, his dear friends, golf, to travel, and to sing.  He always had a kind word for everyone and was fueled by a strong belief that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  He loved people and his smile and contagious wit touched many.

He is survived by his children, Annee Martin, John Skelly, Patricia Skelly, Elizabeth Skelly, Chris Skelly, Rita Brown, Joseph Modrak, Jr, his wife Geneva Modrak, Judith Modrak and her husband, Mark Lobene, as well as his first wife, Deborah Modrak.  He has 11 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Lucy Modrak, his son Joe Louis Skelly, his parents, his brother Tom Modrak, and his sister, Mary Alice Cross.

A Celebration of his Life will be held on June 24th from 12-4 pm at Marsh Mansion at Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club, 6901 Arthur Hills Drive, Gainesville VA 20155.  We would be honored to have you celebrate Dad’s special life with us. If possible, please let us know if you are planning on attending by emailing: 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, .  We are also very thankful for the loving care and support that he received from the staff at Wolk Manor, the Jewish Home, and Rochester Regional Hospice Care, all of whom enriched his life greatly.

8 Condolences

  1. Elizabeth Skly on April 18, 2023 at 4:57 pm

    So beautiful…I will miss my stepdad”poppa joe” every day of my life…He gave us the best life and worshipped the ground my mom walked on…To witness thwor love was like the original peace in the valley…You’re with mom now Poppa Joe…Wnjoy the wings that u have earned…I love u to the heavens and back…your daughter Beth(Elizabeth)skelly

  2. Friedel Martin on April 19, 2023 at 5:47 am

    My heartfelt condolences knowing Joe and Lucy to be such a wonderful couple but now they are both together in heaven and giving love and support for each other
    In gratitude for knowing each of them

  3. Annee Martin on April 19, 2023 at 6:16 am

    When I begin to describe you to my friends, the immediate feeling is DEEP GRATITUDE AND LOVE and I am overwhelmed with just how much you
    mean to me in the 55 years I have known you as a dad, now and forever. I loved coming to see you and mom (Lucy) at your condo in Heritage Hunt. You always went to the
    store to buy my favorite things and made my favorite dinner- Pork Tenderloin marinated in Joe’s famous secret sauce (Thank you for finally sharing it with me)
    I always make my pork and think of you but yours will always be the best. I loved our hugs, and talks and glasses of wine after mom was asleep. You were so much more than most people realize as far as your understanding of Life and philosophy. I loved how you loved David and Friedel and Mariesa, Dan and Jonathan and made them feel so welcome in our family. They loved you right back. I am so grateful for the fun trips we took when we got mom’s diagnosis the last time and knew that time was limited-We went to Shenandoah and Lynchburg, The outer banks and played a week of heart and hand with Joyce and David’s family and you were so happy. The hardest part of you being gone is I had so many hopes and dreams to be able to visit you after mom died and to keep her spirit alive through
    you but that was shortened by your illness and I will always be sad we did not have more time. I cherish our last visit in December when I brought you the Christmas Tree all the way from California. You spoke about PEACE and feeling that and not being afraid and you introduced me as your daughter to the nurses and I cried because that meant so much to me. You were a hero to me. You loved my son, Ben and he loved you and you were the only one in the family that he respected and never said a bad word. That was because you accepted people for where they were at and I can’t thank you enough. Most of all as I sit here and write this and know how very blessed my life is I owe you so much for rescuing my mom from a very hard life and giving her all her 7 kids a beautiful home and opportunity to go into this world and do good. I love Joe Jr and Geneva and Colette and Max and now Rayna and Judith and Mark and Nancy and Paul and I love Deborah who was so kind to my mom when Joe Louis died. I love the European Planning Committee and feel so fortunate to go on one of your trips to Italy and experience first hand how much fun you all had.
    Because of you all these wonderful people came into my life and so you will live on in my heart and their hearts. I love you PAPA JOE with all my heart and I hope Mom was right there as you were going into the everlasting light of eternity and love. I hope God was right there telling you WELL DONE JOE you lived your life with grace and grit and now we are ready for you here. YOU ARE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

  4. Jenn Arasin on April 19, 2023 at 8:07 pm


  5. Lucy Rita MarandaBrown on April 19, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    Dear Joe,
    Thank you for being the best step Dad ever for over 50 years . You gave so much of your LOVE
    and patience, kindness, advice, to your big family through the years the list is endless.
    You took such good care of Mom she delighted in any and all of your trips and getaways together
    and the family reunions you hung in there and had a great time no matter how chaotic or heavenly!!
    Our family will always LOVE you and be Grateful for all our good times together. I wish I could have visited more.
    I thought of you every day since Mom passed. Now you are together and at Peace, no pain no sadness,
    just Joy and LOVE. May your heavenly life be measured by your beautiful life here on Earth.
    We are all Blessed by you! Take our LOVE with you, yours is with us in our hearts for all times!!
    You are LOVED and Missed now and forever,
    Rita, Charlie and your Family in Vermont XOXOXOXOX

  6. David Martin on April 20, 2023 at 8:19 pm

    Yes, “Papa Joe” has completed his journey on this life plane, but his legacy — the way he led his life — lives on in all who were fortunate enough to know him. In my life I will always remember Joe to be among a handful of true friends that always accepted me just as I am, with an inclusive openness and warmth. When I was invariably greeted with one of his signature hugs, I knew, no matter how long it had been since we had been together, that I was going to be nurtured by his hospitality and his loving presence.

  7. Lauren Maranda on April 24, 2023 at 10:05 am

    Papa Joe always made me feel like I was a part of the family from the first time I met him. His smile and warmth were such a blessing to us all. I sincerely enjoyed and appreciated the time I got to spend with him and Nanny Lucy; being in their presence always brought me great joy. They were as dear to me as my own grandparents. It brings me peace to think of Nanny and Papa Joe reunited in heaven and smiling down together on all of us from above. Sending love to our family and friends, and to Papa Joe, thank you for sharing your kind heart with me. We will always miss you.

  8. Abby DeMillo on April 29, 2023 at 1:03 pm

    Judith & family,
    Our deepest condolences at the loss of your father, Joseph. No matter how old we are, it is still so hard to lose a parent.
    With love, friendship and peace.

    Abby & Don

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