Joseph Walter Geringer, 70, of River Grove, IL, passed away on Friday, September 1st after fighting a series of chronic health issues.
Joseph was born on May 3rd, 1953 to loving parents Jeannette and Leroy Geringer, Evergreen Park, IL. He was the youngest of three children, preceded by his sisters Margaret and Catherine. From a very young age Joe found that he had a natural gift for writing which he began developing throughout his time at St. Bernadette's grammar school. He then attended Leo High School on the southwest side where he met many lifelong friends and found his next two passions -- theater and history. During his time at Leo he actively participated in his community's local theater group in their production of West Side Story, playing Riff. He graduated from Leo in 1971.
After graduating, he met and married his first wife Patricia Kech and had two children: Mary Kathryn (born 1979) and Joseph Patrick (born 1980). At this time, Joe began working as a writer for Public Relations at AT&T, where he contributed regularly to his company’s newsletters and publications as well as attending industry conferences. He worked for AT&T for many years before joining the American Health Association as a writer. Joseph was then able to continue his public relations and communications career with United Way of Chicago. With his talent for writing and love of history - Joseph also worked on a variety of projects including: regular contributor to Time Life True Crime collection, History Channel’s “History vs Hollywood”, among others.
While starting his career, Joe continued working with many theater groups around the city and suburbs building a network of theater friends. He acted in “Arsenic and Old Lace” with the Blue Island Theatre Group; he played Ned in “Holiday” with Theater on the Lake; and performed in “Waiting Till Dark” with the Indian Boundary Park theater group. A few years later, Joe would go on to establish a theater group on the southwest side of Chicago called “Geringer Players, Inc” or GPI! From the late 70’s and throughout the 90’s, the playgroup led and directed by Joseph performed several plays for the community including: “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Heritage,” “Drown the Stage with Tears,” “The Prisoner of Zenda,” “Near to Me,” “Gaslight,” “A Thousand Clowns,” “A Christmas Duet: A Celebration of Christmas in Two Acts” and many many more. Geringer Players had a wonderful and talented team of regulars including his good friends Connie and Bill Marshall, Gloria and Jim Moses, Dave Adamo, Dick Leiber, John Hidiniyak, and more.
Joseph has also written and published plays and books including: “Drown the Stage with Tears,” an exciting account of John Wilkes Booth's attempted kidnapping and eventual murder of Lincoln; "Near To Me: An Irish Gangster's Love Story." He was a prolific writer and wrote additional books which were not published, some became adaptations of stories for stage, or acted as a basis for further research, some just for fun. At the time of his passing he was completing a book on Victorian England which he researched relentlessly and lovingly for many years.
Later in life, with his love of acting and history, Joseph often performed as a guest speaker at many of Chicagoland’s historical societies. He was a natural storyteller and loved presenting history in a truly unique, interesting, and fun way. Some of Joseph’s favorite topics were: the Fort Dearborn Massacre, John Wilkes Booth & the Lincoln Assasination, Al Capone & Eliot Ness: The Real Story of the Untouchables, John Lafitte: How Pirates Saved America, and Victorian Haunts of Dracula.
It is around this time that Joseph met his second wife, Diosita (Doti) Gesta. A beautiful, loving and devout woman who became the love of his life and best friend (and biggest historical storytelling fan!) Doti and Joe met online and after several years of chatting and visiting developed a profound friendship and love based on family, faith and fun and in August 2019, they married in downtown Chicago. After marrying they moved to their new home in River Grove, IL where they shared short but so-very-sweet memories together.
Aside from his passion for writing, theater, and history Joseph loved watching the Chicago Bulls with his kids (especially Joey, a massive fan!) He was a southside White Sox fan, a very avid movie guy enjoying many of the classics (both obscure and celebrated), and an absolute avid fan of Chicago style pizza (his favorite was Palermo’s on 63rd, sausage w/extra extra sauce.)
But above all, Joseph was a truly dedicated father and grandfather who doted on his children and grandchildren. He always put his children first, even above the many plays, books, speeches, and games. Joe was an active parent who loved telling his children stories (many which he made up), playing games (also all of which were created on-the-fly), watching movies, allowing them to stay up a little late to have fun, and just loved being with them. As a grandfather, Joseph brought that same love and devotion to his grandchildren whom he truly adored.
Joseph was a man who lived and loved adamantly and loyally -- whether it was a pet project or his family and friends. While he could be a bit stubborn at times, he was always quick with a joke, a silly poem or song, or something hilarious to keep those around him distracted long enough to avoid the original issue (or at least he hoped!). Even when he began to have health problems, a quick visit with the grandkids could completely take his mind off of any issues he might be struggling with -- that or a little Palermo’s pizza.
Joseph W Geringer was a caring and strong man who brought love, enjoyment, smiles and laughter to all who knew him. He will be missed profoundly by his friends and family but after struggling with recent health issues, he’s no longer in pain and joins his loving Mother Jeannette, Father Leroy, and many Aunts and Uncles. He is survived by sisters: Margaret Geringer and Catherine Crilly, his loving wife Diosita (Doti), children: Mary Kathryn Dolgin and Joseph Patrick Geringer, his grandchildren: Alex Dolgin, Uriel (Uri) Dolgin, and Hailey Geringer, his son-in-law Patrick Waks and daughter-in-law Theresa Geringer.