Joseph Golombek, a Ford Motor Co. employee and the father of North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., died Tuesday of cancer in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga. He was 76.
Mr. Golombek was born and raised in Sandomierz, Poland, and witnessed the German invasion of Poland and Soviet domination before moving with his parents and two brothers to the United States in 1947.
The family lived in a tenement building in Buffalo, where Mr. Golombek met his future wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Kusior, who taught him English during the evenings. The two were married March 27, 1951, and spent their lives in Black Rock and Riverside.
In 1950, Mr. Golombek joined Ford Motor Co. as a maintenance worker and landscaper, earning him the nickname "Tractor Joe" among his co-workers at the Stamping Plant in Woodlawn. In 1954, Mr. Golombek, trying to prevent a co-worker from being injured, was struck in the head by a conveyor belt's hook, used to transport vehicle parts. His wife spent two years nursing him back to health. In his spare time, he enjoyed working on his vegetable and flower garden. Neighbors recall him stopping by their homes and leaving gifts of "Polish" tomatoes, cucumbers or zucchini.
Mr. Golombek was also an avid reader. "He would read my history books from college," said Joseph Golombek Jr. "Then he would argue with me about them."
Mr. Golombek was a Democratic committeeman beginning in 1986 and was a longtime member of the Polish Cadets. The organization honored him and his wife as Persons of the Year in 2003.
Survivors, in addition to his wife of 56 years and son, are two daughters, Deborah Varga and Linda Miceli; two sisters, Tessie Raclawski and Mary Walas; and a brother, Chester.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Friday in St. Florian Catholic Church, 569 Hertel Ave.