ForeverMissed
Dear friends and family,

The celebration of life for Joseph and Sylvia Pavek has been cancelled for the foreseeable future as we try to reduce COVID spread and keep you healthy.

Consider this website their celebration of life and leave a note if you wish. If we have any events in the future, it will be listed on this website, email addresses we have will receive a notice, and a notice may be placed in one of the SE Idaho newspapers.

TO LEAVE A NOTE JOE, ABOUT SYLVIA OR BOTH, PLEASE GO TO  BOTTOM OF PAGE AND SEE ALL INFORMATION BELOW.  YOU CAN ALSO ADD PHOTOS TO THE RIGHT, PLEASE SHARE. THANK YOU!

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Joseph Pavek 92 years old , born on October 3, 1927 and passed away on May 24, 2020. We will remember him forever. Please leave well wishes and any stories about Joe and Sylvia you wish to share at the bottom of the page.

For updates or questions, please email Mark Pavek at mashedt8r@gmail.com. Cards may be sent to Jane Pavek-Link at 2045 E Lamar Ct, Boise, ID 83712. 

OBITUARIES for BOTH JOSEPH AND SYLVIA:

Joseph John Pavek
1927 - 2020
Dr. Joseph John Pavek (92) died from age related causes and a broken heart on May 24, 2020. He lost the love of his life, Sylvia, just 50 days earlier and after 62 years of marriage. Joe (Jr) was born into the farming family of Emma and Joseph Pavek on Oct. 3, 1927 near Waubun, Minnesota. Joe and his five brothers, Stanley (d), Adelbert (d), Robert (d), Edmund and Ronald (d), were the third generation raised on the farm. Growing up in the Depression and living on a farm meant that Joe and his brothers fixed anything mechanical that broke. Joe took apart and rebuilt the engine of the family’s first car, a Ford Model A, with his brother Addy. Joe, Addy and Ed left the farm for the US Navy and served during the Korean War. Joe specialized in radar on submarines and aircraft carriers for 3.5 years (1946-49) and was in the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters. Joe obtained BS (Ag Ed) and MS (Plant Genetics) degrees from the U of Minnesota in 1954 and 1963. Joe taught high school Vocational Agriculture for three years following his BS. He graduated with a PhD in Plant Genetics from U of Wisconsin in 1965.

Joe married Sylvia Schramske on June 15, 1957. In 1965 they moved west to potato country when Joe accepted a job with the USDA-ARS as a Research Geneticist. They resided in American Falls, ID until moving to Boise in 2018. Sylvia worked as a Registered Nurse until 1995; Joe retired in 1999. In addition to working and raising a family, Joe served on the American Falls School board and St Mary’s Parish counsel. Joe is survived by his seven children: Mary Pavek, Diane Pavek, Kathleen Hoffman, Susan Pavek (Shayne Aytes), Julie Hill (Darrel), Mark Pavek (Pamela), and Jane Pavek-Link (Robert), and 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Joe was a longtime friend of potato farmers and industry serving as a potato breeder for the USDA at the University of Idaho Research & Extension Center in Aberdeen, ID, working for 34 years (1965-1999). Joe developed new potato varieties with colleagues. Five of the top ten US potato varieties were created by Joe (Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet, Alturas, Bannock Russet and Clearwater Russet) and were grown on more than 300,000 acres in 2019. His varieties are used throughout the world. Approximately half the french fries consumed in the US come from varieties Joe created.

Joe was a dedicated member of the Potato Association of American (PAA) and served in many roles, including President in 1987-88. He published scientific papers in many journals, including the American Journal of Potato Research. Joe received many industry awards: Researcher of the Year by the National Potato Council (1989); Honorary Life Member of PAA (1991); several USDA awards, and many more. He was inducted into the Idaho Potato Hall of Fame in 2000.

To brighten the world, Joe bred and created new iris varieties as a hobby. He loved the challenge of creating and enhancing traits, whether potatoes or flowers. His irises are popular with many and are grown across the US. Joe was a jack of all trades and could fix anything. In anticipation of watching Bugs Bunny in color, his naïve children were excited when the old black and white tv broke down. Their excitement ended abruptly when Joe said, “I can fix this.” Joe often pushed the mechanical boundaries of their station wagon by navigating the family through the Rocky Mountains in pursuit of the great outdoors. He taught the kids to pitch a tent (family size requiring synchronous raising of poles), build a fire, and fish. Joe made sure they knew how to thread worms and grasshoppers on sharp hooks and to properly land and clean their catch.

Joe tirelessly pursued cutthroat and rainbow trout, searching out where fish would lie in the cold Idaho streams and craftily casting a fly he had tied. Joe, Sylvia, and the kids walked many a mile in the aspen stands looking for morels, shaggy manes, and puffball mushrooms to fry up. With colleagues, he searched high and low for undocumented wild potato species in the US. Joe and Sylvia were world travelers visiting potato fields in places like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Peru, and Ireland.

Upon cleaning out Joe’s bookcases, his family was reminded of the breadth and depth of his curious mind. His interests were far ranging beyond science into the realms of literature, history, religion, and philosophy. Joe was well known for his story telling about times growing up in northern Minnesota when they plowed with horses and milked cows in subzero weather during the wee hours of the morning. He also shared adventures as he traveled the world with the Navy. Joe enjoyed reading sonorous poems like The Cremation of Sam McGee at the dinner table. If a word came up that the kids didn’t know, someone was sent for Webster’s dictionary. Joe spoke fluent Czech, enabling him to communicate with his grandmother.

Joe passed away in May when his irises were blooming and potatoes emerging. Each time you see the beauty of an iris or eat potatoes, please think of Joe and appreciate how he contributed to a brighter and tastier world. For updates or questions, please email Mark Pavek at mashedt8r@gmail.com. Cards may be sent to Jane Pavek-Link at 2045 E Lamar Ct, Boise, ID 83712. Joe would ask that you do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need.You may also donate to the Alzheimer’s Association (https://act.alz.org), St Mary’s Catholic Church and/or Power County Senior Center, American Falls, ID, or a charity of your choice in his name.

Sylvia Stephane (née Schramske) Pavek
1932 to 2020

Yooo-hooo! All neighbors within earshot of Sylvia’s pleasant voice knew it was time for her little ones to come back to mama. On April 4, 2020 Sylvia Stephane Pavek (87) called her family together for one final gathering. Born August 19, 1932 to Eva and Stephen Schramske in St Paul, Minnesota, she was the youngest of 3 daughters; predeceased by sisters Elaine Eva (Mrs. William Blakeway) and Loraine Augusta (Mrs. James Reis). Sylvia graduated from Harding High School in 1950 and The College of St Catherine’s Department of Nursing in 1954 in St. Paul, Minn. Sylvia met her future husband, Joseph John Pavek, when she and her friend, Janet Kiefner, went on blind dates; Janet was mis-paired with Joe and Sylvia with another. Sylvia and Joe had a follow-up date and initiated a 63-year love affair, marrying on June 15, 1957. They initially lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin where she worked as a Registered Nurse and full-time mom; Joe taught and went to graduate school.

In 1965, they moved to Aberdeen, ID when Joe accepted the position of USDA potato research geneticist. They resided in American Falls, ID between 1971 and 2018 and moved to Boise, ID in 2018. After beginning as Coordinator of Hospital Volunteers and Activities, Sylvia cared for the elderly as a Registered Nurse, Charge Nurse and an administrator for 22 years in the Geriatrics ward of the Harms Memorial Hospital, Power County. She served on the Idaho Board of Guardians, watching over incapacitated citizens without family/friends able and willing to help. She retired her professional positions in 1995.

Sylvia and Joe raised, nurtured and educated 7 children, 7 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. She is survived by her husband Joe and their children: Mary Pavek (Boise, Idaho), Diane Pavek (Washington, DC), Kathleen Hoffman (Pocatello, Idaho), Susan Pavek (Shayne Aytes, Pocatello, Idaho), Julie Hill (Darrel Hill, Boise, Idaho), Mark Pavek (Pamela Pavek, Moscow, Idaho), and Jane Pavek-Link (Robert Link, Boise, Idaho); and all grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sylvia was an exceptional pianist, classical guitarist, and church organist. Sylvia and Joe were members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in American Falls, where she headed up the Music Ministry and Funeral Committee for a number of years. She was a talented watercolor and sketch artist. Her love of music and playing the piano extended her life, gave her balance, and provided peace. Her motherly duties included chef, debate moderator, circus ringmaster, chauffeur, long-haul trucker, practitioner of the cereal bowl haircut, dietician, therapist, editor, typist, maid, seamstress, professional motivator, sounding board and banker. Sylvia was also an international traveler, outdoorswoman, 4H and cub scout leader, catechism instructor, confidant, saint, and beauty queen. She loved her grandchildren and occasionally spoiled them with ice cream for breakfast.

Sylvia was a cheerful weed puller and right-hand helper in vegetable and flower gardens that Joe designed. She enjoyed fishing with Joe and the kids along tangled stream banks and camping in the sagebrush or pine forest. Sylvia and Joe went to annual potato meetings in places like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Peru, and Ireland.

In her later years, Sylvia experienced memory loss; diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. There were days when she could be entertained with just one news article. It became new each time she read or heard it. With advanced memory loss, she never ran out of new faces or people to meet and greet, even when surrounded by her own family. Advanced memory loss finally gave her the full wait-staff she always desired as a mother and wife: cooks, maids, spa workers, an entertainment director, and the like.

Words and phrases that describe Sylvia: selfless, generous, kind, loving, softly-driven, happy spirit, happy-go-lucky, smart, courageous, patient, fun, a saint, concerned about others first, motherly, tireless. Sylvia’s laugh was infectious. She often laughed until tears would roll. She wasn’t afraid to “wash out your mouth with soap” if you cursed. To wake her kids, she often shook a foot and loudly said “what are you going to do for your country!”.

Sylvia would ask that you do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need. You may also donate to the Alzheimer's Association (https://act.alz.org), Power County Senior Center, 180 Idaho Street, American Falls, ID 83211, 208-226-2794; or a charity of your choice in her name.








Posted by Bradley Parker on August 24, 2020
I imagine like many young men I met Joe while picking up one of his beautiful daughter's for a date. I arrived a bit early and we talked while I waited. "Can she bait a hook?" I asked. A fishing trip to a mountain lake was on the day's agenda and Joe replied that she could. While chit-chatting he started a sentence with the phrase "Well you know girls today..." that has stuck with me all of these years. I took that to be the quiet voice of wisdom from someone with a clear view of the world and not just some old guy's ramblings. Susan and I didn't catch any fish, not for the lack of trying, and we decided to stop at my parent's home which was on our way back to American Falls. My late father, an avid gardener, took notice when Susan said that her father had developed a variety of potato he had heard about. He wrote "Butte" in his note book and asked for Joe's name and phone number. In the following years, during conversations with my father, he would mention that he had phoned Joe to ask for advice on growing potatoes or how to treat some infestation or another. He liked talking to Joe about potatoes and fishing and I believe that they actually met once in person. I ended up in Twin Falls and only saw Susan a few more times before we drifted apart. As things turned out the talk that day in the driveway in American Falls would be the only personal interaction I ever had with Joe. I can only imagine the memories the kids have of Joe and Sylvia so to Susan, Mark and the others know that I'll never forget him. My prayers are with you.
Posted by Linda Sue on June 13, 2020
Mary and I met at a Caregivers' workshop in Pocatello in 2017 when we both had the privilege of taking care of parents. We soon became fast friends. I loved going to the American Falls Senior Center for lunch with them. I would usually walk the block and a half from their house with her Daddy, who would tell me stories all the way, usually of Minnesota or the Navy. We would be amazed that both of us had graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Her mother was also a delight, laughing often and easily at lunch. Of course, they were loved by everyone there, including me!
Posted by Jeff Stark on June 8, 2020
When I arrived at Aberdeen in the summer of 1981, I had just finished graduate school and knew little about the potato crop that I was hired to become an expert on. Joe took the time to mentor me and help me get headed in the right direction as a young researcher. Since my office was right next to his, we engaged in many conversations over the years on a wide variety of topics ranging from potato research to politics and religion. Although our opinions on these topics sometimes differed, Joe was always respectful of my thoughts and ideas and seemed genuinely interested in hearing what I had to say and I, in turn, learned a great deal from my conversations with him. He was always trying to learn and share what he learned with others. Joe was a very patient, kind gentleman who taught me many important lessons about both potatoes and life. I will miss him a great deal.
Posted by Mark Pavek on June 7, 2020
The Pavek Family thanks their friends, community, and potato family for the overwhelming support. The world lost two special people this spring and they will be missed. Your kind words, stories, and well-wishes provide comfort that cannot be described with words. We appreciate you and thank you.
Posted by Steve & Cathy James on June 6, 2020
To the family of Joe Pavek,

Cathy and I have fond memories of Joe and Sylvia. We truly feel for your loss. Joe was such a positive influence on my career in potato variety development. He was such a positive, encouraging person. I recall the countless hours we spent walking fields together looking for the perfect new potato variety -- laughing, joking, kidding each other, telling stories, sweating in the heat, shivering in the snow and yes, finding the next new potato variety.

Cathy fondly remembers dancing the polka with Joe at various times. She had many a great shopping and sightseeing trip with Sylvia during the PAA meetings. She looks back on those times with great pleasure.

Some people you meet positively impact your life in ways that you never forget. Joe was one of those persons.
Posted by Mary Pavek on June 1, 2020
This is the oldest of the "Pavek clan." (I would say the wisest, but I think 6 others would question that!) Something sweet happened at church yesterday (on the Feast of Pentecost) and it caused me to remember....

Dancing: My parents enjoyed dancing most of their lives. When they were courting, the two would waltz, polka and swing together. Their delight in it continued through their marriage. At one point, they were a part of an American Falls square dance troupe and they gathered each week to practice new moves.

I have a very distinct memory of daddy teaching me how to dance when I was about 8 years old. I placed my feet on top of his shoes and he put a "record" on and we started to waltz..."Ok, one, two, three...one, two, three", and around the living room we would go! I remember mostly giggling through the whole thing, but that was the start of loving dance.

Back to church: After receiving Communion, I was quietly sitting in the pew, listening to the soft piano music, actually picturing myself dancing. Suddenly, I heard:
"May I have this dance?"
Gasp...It was my daddy speaking to me! I could hear him clearly. Tears streaming down my face:
"Yes...forever, thank you!!!!" 
Posted by James Whitmore on June 1, 2020
I will miss Joe. He was a great mentor when I started with the University of Idaho. We worked together for 25 years and I always enjoyed him. Peace and happiness to the family as they proceed in life.
Posted by Rich Novy on June 1, 2020
Joe will be greatly missed...he was a warm person with an insightful mind and I have fond memories of walking with him in the field during selection of potato breeding clones at Aberdeen as well as the tour given to me by Joe of his irises in his garden at American Falls. He was very willing to share his irises and gave me several rhizomes when establishing my own flower beds in our house at Pocatello. Joe and Sylvia were very special people and their love for one another was obvious in the playful verbal banter between the two of them.  My condolences to the Pavek family for their loss and am hoping their memories of their loving parents will ease their pain during this difficult time.
Posted by Deb Hart on June 1, 2020
Dear Mark, Pam & Pavek family, I'm so very sorry to learn of your parent's passing. Take comfort they have left a lasting legacy, especially in the potato world, which will last for many years. My thoughts are with you and remember they will always be with you in your hearts. Take care.
Posted by Ewa Zimnoch-Guzowska on June 1, 2020
Dear the Pavek family,

We heart with deep regret of the death of Dr. Joe Pavek.
Joe was an excellent breeder of potato varieties. He was also a scientist who significantly contributed to the field of breeding research. I met Joe in the 1990s participating in PAA meetings. He followed with interest the work of our team from the Potato Institute in Młochów implemented in distant Poland. First contact with Dr. Joe Pavek was made by my predecessor, the founder of our team, Professor Świeżynski. Then, Teresa Sieczka from Młochów and Dr Andrzej Pawlak from Potato Breeding in Zamarte took internships in Aberdeen.

We all remember Joe like a great man. He was always warm, kind and friendly.
Please accept our sincere sympathy.

Ewa Zimnoch-Guzowska with Polish friends of Joe
Posted by Joe Guenthner on May 31, 2020
Dear Pavek family,

So sorry about the loss of Joe and Sylvia.

I first met Joe in 1980 when I moved into a UI Extension position in 1980. I last saw him a few years ago when he was helping Mark with a home improvement project. In between we interacted at countless potato industry meetings.

Joe was the same through all the years I knew him. He had a remarkable demeanor that projected friendliness, intelligence and humor. I remember him always having a smile on his face.

Joe was a role model for me and many others. He served his country, profession, family and community very well. Congrats to Joe for a life well lived.

Joe & Terri Guenthner
Posted by Dennis Corsini on May 31, 2020
Joe and I worked closely together for about twenty five years and we always remained, not just colleagues, but close friends. I regarded Joe as my mentor in the potato world. Gale and I shared many an outing together with Joe and Sylvia and all of our families, camping, fishing, just having a good time. I wish we could have been closer after retiring but distance definitely makes a big difference when you are trying to stay in touch with people. Mark, you especially were and still are good friends with our boys and we hope that continues even as us old folks pass out of the picture  God Bless! Dennis and Gale Corsini
Posted by Melvin Martin on May 30, 2020
To the family of Joe Pavek.
It was truly an honor to know Joe and Sylvia. Shawlene and I first got acquainted with them at a PAA banquet in Idaho in the 1970s.
I will always remember the disaster we had growing the Butte Variety, and the huge success we had growing Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet and now Clearwater.
Joe was a great leader in the expansion and development for potato variety testing in the Western United States.
The potato industry will truly miss one of the great Potato breeders of the 20th century.
Posted by Ritchey Toevs on May 30, 2020
Dear Pavek family,
Your parents were a wonderful treasure our communities enjoyed for more than 50 years. They made our world an exponentially better place. 
May God's love comfort each of you in your loss.
Posted by Hielke De Jong on May 30, 2020
Dear Pavek family,

My condolences in the passing of both Joe and Sylvia.

Thank you very much for putting up the photo gallery. 

Mark, I don’t know how many father-son relationships there are in the professional potato world but you and your dad and my son Walter (potato breeder at Cornell U.) and I are two of them. I guess the kitchen table in your parents’ home must (at least on occasion) have served as a “potato forum” like it did in our house!

Looking at Joe's milestones I realize that I have always been a couple steps behind him. I was born six years after Joe, married two years after Joe and graduated with my Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the U. of Wisconsin six years after Joe. And now Joe has beat me to heaven as well!

Even though Joe and I worked nearly 3,000 miles apart (I worked for 30 years in potato breeding at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre in NB, Canada), the fact that we were both in potato breeding virtually nullified that “physical distance.”

There was one encounter where I almost, for a very brief moment, caught up with Joe. This was at the December 1980 annual meeting of what was then called the NCR-84 (North Central Region) Potato Genetics Technical Committee in Chicago. Joe and I had, independently of each other, both studied the inheritance of russeting in diploid potatoes. Neither of us knew that the other one was studying this trait. At this meeting we both reported our results. As it turned out we came up with identical hypotheses (that this trait is determined by three independently segregating genes) and even used the same gene symbols (A, B, and C) in our respective presentations!

May your parents rest in peace,

Hielke (“Henry”) De Jong 
Posted by Joe Sowokinos on May 29, 2020
To the family of Joe Pavek, especially to Mark. I miss being able to attend as many potato meetings as I would like. I miss visiting with your dad. What an outstanding and caring person, he will be remembered as. Never a bad word for anyone. I wish out paths would have been closer together in everyday life.
My prayers are with all of you during this time of trial and that a lasting peace will soon follow.
Posted by Elmer Ewing on May 29, 2020
Dear Mark and other family members, Your Father and I were long-time potato friends, and I always enjoyed his company and admired his work. We got pretty well acquainted, but I wish I had known earlier more of the things that were included in his obituary--all of which I read with great interest. There were many parallels between his life and mine, but in most cases his was the better story. I was born at the beginning of the depression (1931) and by then he was already old enough to remember much more about it. He served in WW2, and I graduated from grade school the year it ended. He had five brothers; I had three sisters. (I won't say who was luckier there--you know the blessing of sisters, and I wouldn't trade one of mine for a brother.) We both learned to milk cows at an early age--I was six, but stopped milking when I was ten and our farm went broke. He could fix anything, including motors and electronics--I tried to be a fixer, but success was pretty much limited to things made of wood. He and your mother had seven children, we stopped with five. He had many interests beyond science--literature, history, religion, and philosophy, and I have the same ones. You can see that all this grabbed my attention as I read, but then I couldn't believe my eyes. I had to call my wife to share this--he entertained his children by reading The Cremation of Sam McGee. If only I had known, I would have had great fun reciting it to him! I heard it recited when I was in high school, learned it by heart, and have been afflicting children, grandchildren, friends with it ever sense. (Peter Davies, my colleague in Plant Physiology, asked me to do it at his retirement party.) Your father was a great man, a leader in the potato industry, and led a full and fruitful life. (I am sure he was proud to have a son follow in his potato profession, even in line to be president of the PAA!) In the words of Psalm 1, he was like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season. He will be missed, but we can all be grateful for his contributions and for the chance to share in his life. May God bless you all.
Elmer Ewing
Posted by Tom Salaiz on May 29, 2020
To the Pavek Family,

Pam and I are thinking and praying for all of you.

Psalm 56:13
"For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light."

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Bradley Parker on August 24, 2020
I imagine like many young men I met Joe while picking up one of his beautiful daughter's for a date. I arrived a bit early and we talked while I waited. "Can she bait a hook?" I asked. A fishing trip to a mountain lake was on the day's agenda and Joe replied that she could. While chit-chatting he started a sentence with the phrase "Well you know girls today..." that has stuck with me all of these years. I took that to be the quiet voice of wisdom from someone with a clear view of the world and not just some old guy's ramblings. Susan and I didn't catch any fish, not for the lack of trying, and we decided to stop at my parent's home which was on our way back to American Falls. My late father, an avid gardener, took notice when Susan said that her father had developed a variety of potato he had heard about. He wrote "Butte" in his note book and asked for Joe's name and phone number. In the following years, during conversations with my father, he would mention that he had phoned Joe to ask for advice on growing potatoes or how to treat some infestation or another. He liked talking to Joe about potatoes and fishing and I believe that they actually met once in person. I ended up in Twin Falls and only saw Susan a few more times before we drifted apart. As things turned out the talk that day in the driveway in American Falls would be the only personal interaction I ever had with Joe. I can only imagine the memories the kids have of Joe and Sylvia so to Susan, Mark and the others know that I'll never forget him. My prayers are with you.
Posted by Linda Sue on June 13, 2020
Mary and I met at a Caregivers' workshop in Pocatello in 2017 when we both had the privilege of taking care of parents. We soon became fast friends. I loved going to the American Falls Senior Center for lunch with them. I would usually walk the block and a half from their house with her Daddy, who would tell me stories all the way, usually of Minnesota or the Navy. We would be amazed that both of us had graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Her mother was also a delight, laughing often and easily at lunch. Of course, they were loved by everyone there, including me!
Posted by Jeff Stark on June 8, 2020
When I arrived at Aberdeen in the summer of 1981, I had just finished graduate school and knew little about the potato crop that I was hired to become an expert on. Joe took the time to mentor me and help me get headed in the right direction as a young researcher. Since my office was right next to his, we engaged in many conversations over the years on a wide variety of topics ranging from potato research to politics and religion. Although our opinions on these topics sometimes differed, Joe was always respectful of my thoughts and ideas and seemed genuinely interested in hearing what I had to say and I, in turn, learned a great deal from my conversations with him. He was always trying to learn and share what he learned with others. Joe was a very patient, kind gentleman who taught me many important lessons about both potatoes and life. I will miss him a great deal.
his Life

Obituaries for Both Joseph and Sylvia

OBITUARIES for BOTH JOSEPH AND SYLVIA:

Joseph John Pavek
1927 - 2020
Dr. Joseph John Pavek (92) died from age related causes and a broken heart on May 24, 2020. He lost the love of his life, Sylvia, just 50 days earlier and after 62 years of marriage. Joe (Jr) was born into the farming family of Emma and Joseph Pavek on Oct. 3, 1927 near Waubun, Minnesota. Joe and his five brothers, Stanley (d), Adelbert (d), Robert (d), Edmund and Ronald (d), were the third generation raised on the farm. Growing up in the Depression and living on a farm meant that Joe and his brothers fixed anything mechanical that broke. Joe took apart and rebuilt the engine of the family’s first car, a Ford Model A, with his brother Addy. Joe, Addy and Ed left the farm for the US Navy and served during the Korean War. Joe specialized in radar on submarines and aircraft carriers for 3.5 years (1946-49) and was in the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters. Joe obtained BS (Ag Ed) and MS (Plant Genetics) degrees from the U of Minnesota in 1954 and 1963. Joe taught high school Vocational Agriculture for three years following his BS. He graduated with a PhD in Plant Genetics from U of Wisconsin in 1965.

Joe married Sylvia Schramske on June 15, 1957. In 1965 they moved west to potato country when Joe accepted a job with the USDA-ARS as a Research Geneticist. They resided in American Falls, ID until moving to Boise in 2018. Sylvia worked as a Registered Nurse until 1995; Joe retired in 1999. In addition to working and raising a family, Joe served on the American Falls School board and St Mary’s Parish counsel. Joe is survived by his seven children: Mary Pavek, Diane Pavek, Kathleen Hoffman, Susan Pavek (Shayne Aytes), Julie Hill (Darrel), Mark Pavek (Pamela), and Jane Pavek-Link (Robert), and 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Joe was a longtime friend of potato farmers and industry serving as a potato breeder for the USDA at the University of Idaho Research & Extension Center in Aberdeen, ID, working for 34 years (1965-1999). Joe developed new potato varieties with colleagues. Five of the top ten US potato varieties were created by Joe (Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet, Alturas, Bannock Russet and Clearwater Russet) and were grown on more than 300,000 acres in 2019. His varieties are used throughout the world. Approximately half the french fries consumed in the US come from varieties Joe created.

Joe was a dedicated member of the Potato Association of American (PAA) and served in many roles, including President in 1987-88. He published scientific papers in many journals, including the American Journal of Potato Research. Joe received many industry awards: Researcher of the Year by the National Potato Council (1989); Honorary Life Member of PAA (1991); several USDA awards, and many more. He was inducted into the Idaho Potato Hall of Fame in 2000. 

To brighten the world, Joe bred and created new iris varieties as a hobby. He loved the challenge of creating and enhancing traits, whether potatoes or flowers. His irises are popular with many and are grown across the US. Joe was a jack of all trades and could fix anything. In anticipation of watching Bugs Bunny in color, his naïve children were excited when the old black and white tv broke down. Their excitement ended abruptly when Joe said, “I can fix this.” Joe often pushed the mechanical boundaries of their station wagon by navigating the family through the Rocky Mountains in pursuit of the great outdoors. He taught the kids to pitch a tent (family size requiring synchronous raising of poles), build a fire, and fish. Joe made sure they knew how to thread worms and grasshoppers on sharp hooks and to properly land and clean their catch.

Joe tirelessly pursued cutthroat and rainbow trout, searching out where fish would lie in the cold Idaho streams and craftily casting a fly he had tied. Joe, Sylvia, and the kids walked many a mile in the aspen stands looking for morels, shaggy manes, and puffball mushrooms to fry up. With colleagues, he searched high and low for undocumented wild potato species in the US. Joe and Sylvia were world travelers visiting potato fields in places like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Peru, and Ireland.

Upon cleaning out Joe’s bookcases, his family was reminded of the breadth and depth of his curious mind. His interests were far ranging beyond science into the realms of literature, history, religion, and philosophy. Joe was well known for his story telling about times growing up in northern Minnesota when they plowed with horses and milked cows in subzero weather during the wee hours of the morning. He also shared adventures as he traveled the world with the Navy. Joe enjoyed reading sonorous poems like The Cremation of Sam McGee at the dinner table. If a word came up that the kids didn’t know, someone was sent for Webster’s dictionary. Joe spoke fluent Czech, enabling him to communicate with his grandmother.

Joe passed away in May when his irises were blooming and potatoes emerging. Each time you see the beauty of an iris or eat potatoes, please think of Joe and appreciate how he contributed to a brighter and tastier world. A celebration of Joe’s and Sylvia’s lives is planned for August 15 in Eastern Idaho. Celebration of life updates and an online memorial can be found at: joseph-john-pavek.forevermissed.com. Funeral visitation will be Thurs June 11 between 2-3 pm at St Mark’s Catholic Church, 7960 W Northview St, Boise, followed by a funeral Mass for both Joseph and Sylvia at 3-4 pm. For updates or questions, please email Mark Pavek at mashedt8r@gmail.com. Cards may be sent to Jane Pavek-Link at 2045 E Lamar Ct, Boise, ID 83712. Joe would ask that you do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need.You may also donate to the Alzheimer’s Association (https://act.alz.org), St Mary’s Catholic Church and/or Power County Senior Center, American Falls, ID, or a charity of your choice in his name. 

Sylvia Stephane (née Schramske) Pavek
1932 to 2020
Yooo-hooo! All neighbors within earshot of Sylvia’s pleasant voice knew it was time for her little ones to come back to mama. On April 4, 2020 Sylvia Stephane Pavek (87) called her family together for one final gathering. Born August 19, 1932 to Eva and Stephen Schramske in St Paul, Minnesota, she was the youngest of 3 daughters; predeceased by sisters Elaine Eva (Mrs. William Blakeway) and Loraine Augusta (Mrs. James Reis). Sylvia graduated from Harding High School in 1950 and The College of St Catherine’s Department of Nursing in 1954 in St. Paul, Minn. Sylvia met her future husband, Joseph John Pavek, when she and her friend, Janet Kiefner, went on blind dates; Janet was mis-paired with Joe and Sylvia with another. Sylvia and Joe had a follow-up date and initiated a 63-year love affair, marrying on June 15, 1957. They initially lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin where she worked as a Registered Nurse and full-time mom; Joe taught and went to graduate school.

In 1965, they moved to Aberdeen, ID when Joe accepted the position of USDA potato research geneticist. They resided in American Falls, ID between 1971 and 2018 and moved to Boise, ID in 2018. After beginning as Coordinator of Hospital Volunteers and Activities, Sylvia cared for the elderly as a Registered Nurse, Charge Nurse and an administrator for 22 years in the Geriatrics ward of the Harms Memorial Hospital, Power County. She served on the Idaho Board of Guardians, watching over incapacitated citizens without family/friends able and willing to help. She retired her professional positions in 1995.

Sylvia and Joe raised, nurtured and educated 7 children, 7 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. She is survived by her husband Joe and their children: Mary Pavek (Boise, Idaho), Diane Pavek (Washington, DC), Kathleen Hoffman (Pocatello, Idaho), Susan Pavek (Shayne Aytes, Pocatello, Idaho), Julie Hill (Darrel Hill, Boise, Idaho), Mark Pavek (Pamela Pavek, Moscow, Idaho), and Jane Pavek-Link (Robert Link, Boise, Idaho); and all grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sylvia was an exceptional pianist, classical guitarist, and church organist. Sylvia and Joe were members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in American Falls, where she headed up the Music Ministry and Funeral Committee for a number of years. She was a talented watercolor and sketch artist. Her love of music and playing the piano extended her life, gave her balance, and provided peace. Her motherly duties included chef, debate moderator, circus ringmaster, chauffeur, long-haul trucker, practitioner of the cereal bowl haircut, dietician, therapist, editor, typist, maid, seamstress, professional motivator, sounding board and banker. Sylvia was also an international traveler, outdoorswoman, 4H and cub scout leader, catechism instructor, confidant, saint, and beauty queen. She loved her grandchildren and occasionally spoiled them with ice cream for breakfast.

Sylvia was a cheerful weed puller and right-hand helper in vegetable and flower gardens that Joe designed. She enjoyed fishing with Joe and the kids along tangled stream banks and camping in the sagebrush or pine forest. Sylvia and Joe went to annual potato meetings in places like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Peru, and Ireland.

In her later years, Sylvia experienced memory loss; diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. There were days when she could be entertained with just one news article. It became new each time she read or heard it. With advanced memory loss, she never ran out of new faces or people to meet and greet, even when surrounded by her own family. Advanced memory loss finally gave her the full wait-staff she always desired as a mother and wife: cooks, maids, spa workers, an entertainment director, and the like.

Words and phrases that describe Sylvia: selfless, generous, kind, loving, softly-driven, happy spirit, happy-go-lucky, smart, courageous, patient, fun, a saint, concerned about others first, motherly, tireless. Sylvia’s laugh was infectious. She often laughed until tears would roll. She wasn’t afraid to “wash out your mouth with soap” if you cursed. To wake her kids, she often shook a foot and loudly said “what are you going to do for your country!”.

A celebration of life will likely be held August 15, in eastern Idaho. An announcement will be provided to friends and family when details are confirmed. Those wishing to be included on the mailing list can email Mark Pavek at mashedt8r@gmail.com. Sylvia would ask that you do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need. You may also donate to the Alzheimer's Association (https://act.alz.org), Power County Senior Center, 180 Idaho Street, American Falls, ID 83211, 208-226-2794; or a charity of your choice in her name.
Recent stories

Stories

Shared by John Bamberg on June 1, 2020
Joe was on the board of directors for the potato genebank at Sturgeon Bay for 14 of the years I have been there.  We also went collecting wild potato together in the 4-Corners states a few years, which gave opportunity to get to know him (and Sylvia!) a bit better. 

A few stories from traveling together collecting…

We decided to eat lunch on the road between sites, so as he was driving, I was offering him things from the groceries we had along from the passenger seat.  How about some tomato on your sandwich?—no, don’t really care for tomato.  How about a piece of chocolate?—no, don’t really like chocolate.  There was a pause while I’m thinking, “what kind of guy doesn’t like tomatoes or chocolate?” and I start to say, “Joe, I’m beginning to wonder about you and whether you even like…” when he cut me off sharply saying, “Hold on a minute, Bamberg--  remember that I’ve got 7 kids”.   

Then there was the time that we were having a hard time finding lodging late at night in Colorado, and he saw on the map a town of 8,700-- surely big enough that there would be a motel.  After going a few miles off the interstate down doubtful gravel roads we came to a lonely intersection where there were 5 or 6 houses and a post office.  Joe looked at the map again and said, “Oh baloney… that’s the elevation”.

Joe liked to lodge at Super-8.  We got to a town in Utah where there was one at about 10PM, but there was no vacancy.  Even though it was my turn to drive, I said it would be fine to go a couple of hours more to the next town where there was a  Super-8.  Max promptly stretched out in the back seat and fell asleep.  As we started down the highway, Joe says, unexpectedly, “Yeah, I met Sylvia at a dance…”, and I realized with amusement that he had recognized the need to keep me awake at the wheel, so took responsibility for that by launching into the story of his life.

Here’s a Joe-ism we still use today… “I’m saving my thirst”.  It seemed a strange idea to Max and me, especially when we got to Chinle to stop for supper and Joe was chagrined to realize that after all that discipline to delay gratification, on the Navajo reservation all he could get was fake beer.

A wonderful man

Shared by Jeff Bragg on May 30, 2020
Hello Mark and family,

I admired and loved Joe throughout my professional career.  Not for just being a great gentleman....but for how he mentored me and others, when I was young and starting into potatoes in 1980.  I learned so much from Joe about his potato passion but it was beyond that.  He helped everybody, loved everybody, and there was a lot of energy in Aberdeen, Idaho where he set into motion his passion for agriculture and rural neighborhoods.  I wish I could spend more time with him....so very sorry for your loss and many thoughts and prayers in his passing.  I didn’t know he had just lost the love of his life....but no doubt they are together.  And easy to know they truly loved each other by the great family left behind..