In Memoriam: Jose (Joe) Garza, CO

  Jose (Joe) Garza

Jose (Joe) Garza, CO, died on Oct. 20, 2011 in Crown Point, Indiana. He practiced orthotics for 41 years at Calumet Orthopedic & Prosthetic Company, Hobart, Ind., until retiring in June.

“Joe was very dedicated to his patients and was very compassionate and warm-hearted,” said Ron Pawlowski, CPO, owner and president of Calumet. “He especially had a way with kids, so all our pediatric orthotic patients were assigned to him. He had a way of relating to them as they learned to trust him and we were not surprised to see them climbing on his lap when they returned for follow-up treatment, no longer afraid of the situation. His older patients all respected and admired Joe as well.”

Born in 1945, Joe joined Calumet in 1970, working with founder Walter Pawlowski, CPO, shortly after his discharge from the US Army. It was in Vietnam where he met Walter’s son, Ron, when they were both stationed at a Med Evac Hospital in Can Tho.

“Joe and I worked as OR techs along with two orthopedic surgeons, treating the injured sometimes 24 hours a day,” Ron Pawlowski said. “We were a close group, including the doctors.”

After Joe returned from Vietnam, he contacted Ron’s father. “As I had written to my parents and told them about Joe and the possibility of him contacting them for a job, they didn’t hesitate to offer him one when he called. In fact, not only did they offer him a job, but also welcomed him into our family,” Pawlowski said.

Joe completed his formal orthotics education at Northwestern University. He became ABC-certified in 1976 and became a member of the American Orthopedic & Prosthetic Association.

“Joe was a good employee and a hard worker,” Pawlowski said. “But I also remember his sense of humor and after we returned from Vietnam, how outgoing he was. He was very active, joined a ski club, and seemed to know everyone at our apartment complex, spending time at the pool, playing pool, playing cards, and generally being very sociable. He seemed to know everybody, and everyone enjoyed being around Joe.”

Joe also had another close connection to Ron Pawlowski — they are brothers-in-law. Joe’s sister, Micki, began corresponding with Ron while he was in Vietnam and continued to correspond after he was discharged. They were married in 1970.

Joe also is survived by his wife, Judith; daughters Kristen M. Heilman and Nicole L. Bateman; son, Eric L. Garza; and other relatives and friends.

“I think Joe would like to be remembered as making the best of the life he was given, and having made a difference in those he knew and cared for,” Pawlowski said. “We will miss Joe and we will keep his memory alive in our hearts.”

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