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Joseph E. Simiele, 95, World War II vet and longtime Labor Department official

Feb. 8, 1923 – Oct. 21, 2018

Joseph E. Simiele, 95, of Wheatfield, a decorated World War II Army paratrooper and a retired U.S. Labor Department official, died Oct. 21, 2018, in Niagara Hospice, Lockport.

A native of Amsterdam, N.Y., Simiele was a sergeant in the Army's famed 82nd Airborne Division that was in combat in Belgium, France and Germany. He was awarded a Bronze Star.

His unit crossed the Elbe River to within 70 miles of Berlin when it was ordered to halt to allow the Russians, advancing from the East, to capture the city.

When Germany surrendered on VE Day on May 8, 1945, Simiele told friends that despite the language barrier, "We celebrated with the Russian soldiers on the front lines and shared their vodka."

Simiele's unit, upon its return to the U.S., was selected to march down Fifth Avenue in New York City in a ticker-tape victory parade celebrating the end of the war, an experience he deemed an honor and often recalled with emotion.

As a teenager, Simiele managed a pool hall in Amsterdam and later worked in a carpet factory before earning a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from Bryant College in Providence, R.I.

He entered government service in 1956 as an investigator for the U.S. Civil Service Commission. From 1959 to 1984, he was with the U.S. Labor Department, starting as a compliance officer and rising to the position of area administrator of the Buffalo office, which enforced labor laws in 46 New York counties.

At Elderwood/Wheatfield, where he lived for the last 10 years, Simiele's friends said he was arguably the best pool player on campus.

He met his wife, the former Dorothy (Dottie) Jurgens, on a blind date in Washington, D.C.

Besides his wife of 57 years, he is survived by two daughters, Jana Marie Frustaci and Marla Jo Reimers; a son, Eugene; two sisters Mary Simiele and Virginia Houlihan; and seven grandchildren.

A brother, Eugene, was killed in combat while serving in the Army in Korea.

A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 in Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church, 64 Center Ave., North Tonawanda.

 

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