Joseph Charles Sylvester was born the youngest of 3 children on a farm in Madison County, Indiana on 4/22/35 to Charles Henry Sylvester and Lena Long Sylvester where he grew to love farming and the land around him. He went on to attend Purdue University, where he played clarinet for four years in Purdue’s Marching and Symphonic bands and graduated with a degree in Agriculture Economics in 1957. After moving to Bloomington in 1965, he went back to school and completed a Masters in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University Bloomington in 1968.
Joe began his career in the Cooperative Extension Service as an Extension Agent after graduating from Purdue and covered several areas in Indiana over the next 12 years including Washington, Winchester, Muncie, Logansport and finally, Bloomington. It was on one of his visits to help a farmer in Washington, Indiana that he met his future bride, Brenda Gayle Risley, whom he married on February 22, 1959. After settling in Bloomington, Joe changed careers and went to work in Human Resources for NAD Crane in March of 1969. Five years later, he left Crane and began commuting to Naval Air Warfare Center in Indianapolis, and retired from there in 1992 as the Director of Employee Relations, Training and Labor Relations.
Over the years, Joe served in several organizations, including County Planning and Zoning Commission (Cass and Monroe Counties), Kiwanis Club (Logansport and Bloomington), County Parks Board and Community Action Program (both in Monroe County), 2 years President of Service Corps of Retired Executives (S.C.O.R.E. Bloomington), and Soil Conservation District in both Cass and Monroe Counties. He even worked part-time after retirement at the White River Co-op of Bloomington until June 2004. He was very active for decades as a deacon and coordinator at First Christian Church of Bloomington and currently is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
When Joe was able, he was an avid lover of boating and his motorcycles, playing the clarinet and working with his hands. He was a great lover of animals and music and old cars and tractors. In his later years, he took great delight in his flower gardens and of course as always, his Border Collies. Although the last 3 years of his life was spent confined to a wheelchair, it didn’t hold him back from getting out and enjoying being around the people he loved.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Brenda Gayle Sylvester of Bloomington, brother Donald Sylvester of Anderson, and sister Virginia Sylvester Dean of Wabash and a nephew, Kerry Sylvester of Anderson. He is survived by his daughter, Kathryn Sylvester Floyd and her partner Floyd Smith of Bloomington and his son, Kurk and his wife Stacy Sylvester of Bloomfield, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Graveside Services for Joe will be Friday, July 5, 2019 at 11:00 am at the Mausoleum Chapel of Valhalla Memory Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to IU Health Hospice House.