Joseph F. Szabo, of Munster, Ind., and formerly of Riverdale, Ill., a retired member of Local 1299 (Chicago, Ill.) passed away Friday, June 12, 2020.An Army Air Corps veteran, Brother Szabo was a loving husband, father and grandfather and retired with 39 years of service as a switchman for the Illinois Central Railroad, where he served as secretary/treasurer and as chaplain for his local. His drive to provide for his family often led him to hustle second jobs: He sold autos at Ford dealerships, owned gas stations, worked at the Chicago Board of Trade, worked at Republic Steel, and ran a small business installing TV antennas.
But it was the camaraderie of railroading he loved and he remained close with former co-workers in retirement, particularly through the Dolton Elks.
Joseph was an avid lover of his afternoon martini, Big Band music and dancing, and his Chicago sports. He had a lifelong passion for the Chicago Cubs and loved taking his family to Wrigley Field. As an uncle, he was very close with his nieces, nephews and their families, and loved large family gatherings where he shared love, wisdom, stories and his wonderful sense of humor.
In retirement he served as a volunteer tax preparer for AARP, a volunteer Village Inspector in Riverdale, Ill., as a member of the Chicago South Suburban Mass Transit District Board and as chaplain for the Dolton Elks. Active in community theater earlier in his life, he enjoyed singing in the chorus at the Hartsfield Village Retirement Community.
He is survived by his loving children, Jo Carol (Thomas, dec) Clark, Susan (Richard) Stables, Peggy Szabo, former Federal Railroad Administrator and Illinois State Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo (Local 120, Chicago, Ill.) and Clark (Diana) Szabo; and his precious grandchildren Carly Szabo, Megan Stables, Tori Szabo and Natalie Szabo.
Brother Szabo was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Shirley; sisters Margaret Barber and Rose Stapleton; and his parents, Joseph and Theresia Szabo, who emigrated from Burgenland, Austria.
A funeral service will be held 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 at Solan Pruzin Funeral Home, 14 Kennedy Ave., Schererville, Ind. Friends may visit with the family 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Calumet Area or the Chicago Lighthouse.
SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Szabo’s family, his friends, Local 1299 and all who knew him.