Lifelong resident of Whitefish, Joseph “Joe” Bucariza passed away peacefully of natural causes on Friday afternoon, May 24, 2019, at North Valley Hospital. Joe was 13 days short of his 85th birthday.
His parents, Venancio and Demetria Bucariza, emigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1929, settling in Whitefish. Joe’s father went to work for the Great Northern Railway.
Joe was born on June 6, 1934, joining an older sister, Wilma. Brother William “Willy” was born in January 1937 to complete the family.
After his freshman year in Whitefish High School, the family moved to Stockton, California. After one year in California, Joe decided that he wanted to return to Whitefish and Montana. After his sophomore year of school he, by himself, moved back to Whitefish. He rented an apartment in the Samson Block, peddled papers, worked odd jobs to support himself and enrolled in the junior class at Whitefish High School.
After his junior year the family moved back to Whitefish to reunite the family in Whitefish. Joe graduated with the class of 1953. Joe was an outstanding basketball player even though he only had the use of one eye, losing the other early in his life due to a childhood disease.
While still in school and at the age of 16, Joe went to work for the Great Northern Railway in the clerical department. Over the years he worked many different positions with the Great Northern, then the Burlington Northern and finally Burlington Northern Santa Fe, retiring in 1997 with 44 years of service.
In you lived in Whitefish during the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s you probably knew Joe. He was always ready to help his friends. He helped build houses, barns, fences, helped with the haying, cutting firewood, shoveled snow, plowed driveways. You name it, Joe helped with it.
Joe loved the outdoors. He successfully hunted deer, elk, moose, bear and antelope. For several years he traveled to Canada for goose hunting. Fishing was also a great love of his. When arthritis struck his right hand, he trained himself to fly fish with his left hand. He and Willy and many friends spent many trips to the east side of the mountains to fish the various lakes on the reservation. For years he was regular trap shooter, even with the problem with his eyes he was able to score many 25s.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his sister Wilma Aguinid, niece Conde and nephew Marcus, all of Sacramento, California; and his brother Willy at the family home in Whitefish.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial gathering to honor Joe’s life will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the Bulldog in Whitefish. So many people will always have fond memories of Joe.