Joseph Thomas Sykes Jr.
Joseph “Joe” was a beloved husband, father, brother and “Grandpa-Great”, “Grandpa Monkey”, “Uncle Rocky” during his incredible 86 years of life. He passed peacefully in his home in San Tan Valley, AZ during the early morning hours of June 25, 2022 with his loving family by his side after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
He was born on September 26, 1935 to Joseph Thomas and Marie Gustavine (Gerrardi) Sykes in Niagara Falls, NY where he lived throughout his entire childhood. He had 8 siblings (three of which passed as infants prior to his birth due to illness) that he shared unbreakable bonds with.
He was the most patriotic man you’d ever meet. He loved his country and honored its flag and foundation his entire life. He left school at the young age of 17 and enlisted in the United States Air Force, Airman 2nd Class during the Korean war in 1952. He earned his GED in the Airforce while on active duty in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1960 after serving another four years in the reserve. He lived the remainder of his years as a proud veteran, continuing to serve his country by honoring it in every way and leading by his example of true American patriotism.
In February of 1957 in Niagara Falls, NY he met the love of his life Barbara Ann Brown, “BABS” at a family dinner arranged by his sister Jean. He and Barb quickly grew quite fond of one another and married just ten months later on October 5, 1957. They were later sealed for time and all eternity in the Manti, UT temple on August 5, 1972. He was always a devoted, loyal, and loving husband throughout their nearly 65 years together. Joe and Barb are a shining example of what the commitment of marriage is meant to be.
Barb couldn’t help but be drawn to him as he had the most impeccable sense of style. In his younger years, he took on the “Elvis” greaser style and carried a comb and pen in his front shirt pocket every day for nearly 70 years, much to the delight of his small grand babies. He often wore blue, not just because it was his favorite color, but really because Barb said it made his blue eyes just “pop”.
He was the very best father and provider, dedicating his life to his family whom he loved unwavering. Together, he and Barbara welcomed four children: Barbara, Kathy, Sandra, and Richard into their lives; all of whom were his pride and joy and he had unique bonds with each of them. Every day after work the kids would race to sit in front of him to unlace his boots to take them off for him.
He was a valued, loyal employee and worked as a lineman for NY Bell for 21 years. The mountains of Utah fascinated him and he transferred to Mountain Bell in Utah in July of 1978, where he worked for an additional 21 years. He retired at the age of 62 after 42 long years of climbing telephone poles, which he loved, allowing him to spend more than 20 retired years enjoying his life and legacy with his family.
He was a devoted member of the Niagara Falls ward in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He had a deep love for God, his church, and his faith. After transferring to Utah in 1978, he and his wife were members of the Provo Grandview 3rd Ward for 40 years. He served in many capacities for the church, but his favorite was Sunday School President. He was a man’s man but was very tender and a child at heart himself; he especially loved children and animals. In New York, he was known as the “Candy Man” because he was always handing out candy to the neighborhood kids. In Utah, he quickly became the “Cookie Man”. The bus stop was right in front of his house and every day after school the kids would line up on his driveway to his garage door to get their daily cookies. In 2018, he and his wife made the move to Arizona to enjoy the rest of their retirement with sunny days and warm weather, as members of the Arizona Sierra Vista ward.
One of his favorite pastimes in his later years was his facetime banters with his much loved nieces and nephews. He loved Facebook because it kept him connected to those he loved. He loved the simple things. He would enjoy a cup of hot chocolate every single day, even up to his last days.
He lived a very fulfilling life and created valued relationships with everyone who crossed his path. It is without doubt that one of his greatest joys in life and most meaningful roles was that of a husband to his wife and a grandpa (“Grandpa Monkey”) to his 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren. He and Mom never missed an opportunity to be with their grandchildren. Each of them grew up just knowing they were his “favorite” because he had a unique bond with every single one of them and had a way of making them feel valued and loved. Together they enjoyed parades, traveling, breakfast dates, Saturday sleepovers, banana pancakes followed by lunch dates to RC Willey for free hot dogs, and 5 am hot air balloon launches on the 4th of July. He & Barb lived every single day for their family and found the time to be there for most every occasion. We will forever cherish these memories.
His legacy is far greater than even he knew, and he will be dearly missed. We know he is close, and we promise to love and honor his wife, our mom, fiercely as he did for the rest of her days.
Joe is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Barbara Ann (Brown) Sykes; four children, Barbara Faulring (late Scott) of Orem, UT, Kathy Bird of South Jordan, UT, Sandra (Bryan) Beck of San Tan Valley, AZ, and Richard Sykes of San Tan Valley, AZ; sixteen grandchildren; thirty-nine great-grandchildren; a sister-in-law Maryanne (Mark) Waters, as well as many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death and welcomed to heaven by his parents Joseph Thomas Sykes Sr. and Marie Gustavine (Gerardi) Sykes; all eight of his siblings Yvette (late Marcel) Briand, Gustave (late Lorraine) Strong, Haroldine “Deanie” (late George) Evendole, Marie (late Stanley) Yachwan, Jean (late Frank) Guagliano, Marie, June, and Joseph Harold; and son-in-law Scott Faulring and niece Jeanine Briand Stringer. He was a pivotal influence on his family and his legacy is far greater than even he knew. He will be dearly missed. We know he is close, and we promise to love and honor his wife, our mom fiercely, as he did for the rest of her days.
A viewing will be held on Monday, July 11th from 9:00 am to 10:00 am in the Sierra Vista ward church building at 31844 North Ganzel Road, San Tan Valley, AZ. The memorial service will follow at 10:00 am. Military honors and Burial services will take place starting at 1:30 pm at the National Memorial Cemetery in Cave Creek AZ.
We would like to recognize Horizon Funeral Care for their kind assistance and extend our upmost gratitude to Hospice of the Valley, more specifically to his nurse Lyn, Social worker Rose, and CNA Edgar for their impeccable care during his last 6 months while his body slowly failed him. His Hospice nurse Lyn referred to him as a modern-day John Wayne. Your kindness and compassion do not go unnoticed.
If preferred, in lieu of flowers we ask that donations be made in his honor to your local Veteran’s Memorial Fund or your local Cancer Research Center in his name.