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Obituary: Josef “Joe” Rieping


For The Madera Tribune

Josef “Joe” Rieping.

 

Josef “Joe” Rieping died in the presence of his beloved son Bernie and daughter-in-law Betty in Madera at 1:10 a.m., July 18, 2023, after battling Alzheimer’s disease for more than two years.


The eighth of 11 children, he was born in Klein Karlshoeh, Germany (now Poland), on Aug. 30, 1936, to Heinrich and Helene. In July of 1945, Helene and her remaining eight children fled to West Germany to escape imprisonment by Soviet authorities, who deported German civilians to the USSR for forced labor and had taken away his father earlier that year.


He and his siblings were divided among relatives. He attended a minor seminary at age 12. His father died in 1955 soon after his release by the Russians, and Josef immigrated to the USA on Jan. 10, 1957, to help support his mother and sisters. He initially milked cows in New York and worked in the summer at the Rieping Lodge, a resort in Roscoe, N.Y. He served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1961.


He moved to Sanger, California, in January of 1962 to work at an uncle’s dairy. He first saw Teresa Lozano when she performed in Sanger with her folkloric dance troupe, and they later married in St. Alphonsus Church in Fresno on Jan. 18, 1964. Spurned by his uncle for marrying a Mexican, he worked as a farm pest control advisor until their first child, Anthony, arrived that December.


A job offer from Noble’s Independent Meat Company, a meat packing and processing plant in Madera, led the family to move. Eventually his arm muscles grew so strong they separated from the bone, which forced him to change careers to landscaping and — for a time — custodial work for St. Joachim Church and School.


His wife Teresa died on Feb. 23, 2016, but he found love again and married Sharon Caruana at St. Joachim Church in Madera on Jan. 23, 2021.


He loved horses and mules. His wagon and buggy won awards in area parades, and carried Monroe School children for carnivals and history projects. He served as Grand Knight for the St. Joseph Marello Council of the Knights of Columbus in Madera, and attained the charitable organization’s highest degree, serving in the Our Lady of Mercy Assembly in Merced. He embraced the spirituality of the gospel-centered Focolare Movement, and repeatedly welcomed the homeless into his home.


He is survived by his wife, Sharon, his son Anthony and his wife Noel, his son Bernard “Bernie” and his wife Betty, his son Eugene “Gino” and his wife Angelica, his daughter Maria-Helena Uribe and husband Hector, his son John and his wife Viviana, 18 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren, one of whom is in the womb.


Visitation will be Wednesday, July 26, from 3 to 6 p.m., at Jay Chapel, 1121 Roberts Ave. The rosary will be prayed July 26, at 6 p.m., at Jay Chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, July 27, at 9:30 a.m., in St. Joachim Church, 401 W. 5th St. with a reception afterwards at Holy Spouses Hall, 320 N. I St.

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