Joseph H. Pitzer Jr.

19 October, 193223 January, 2021

Joseph H. Pitzer Jr., 88, met his Savior face to face Saturday, January 23, 2021. Born on October 19, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio, Joe was the son of Joseph and Mildred Pitzer. He was a graduate of John Marshall High School where he met his wife, Jeanette Heins. He moved to Fort Wayne to attend Fort Wayne Bible College and married his high school sweetheart while still a student there. He eventually obtained a Masters degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, and following graduation, he obtained his first teaching job with Fort Wayne Community Schools at McCulloch School. He loved teaching and loved his students. As his career advanced, he became the principal of Adams Elementary School and remained there for 26 years. He had a great love for the Adams students, families, and staff and was greatly respected. During this time his wife was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, and he took on the added job of faithful and loving caregiver. He was a true example of what it means to fulfill the marriage vow, “Til death do us part.” While the role of caregiver was not something he wanted, he became an expert and made it his mission to educate and help others who were facing the same circumstances. He often spoke to groups, sharing his knowledge and providing guidance. His care for Jeanette became so demanding that he was forced to retire at an early age but he did not complain. When nursing home care was needed, he visited her daily, getting to know staff and residents at the facility. Following Jeanette’s passing, Joe later married Shirley Holley. He enjoyed traveling with her, getting together with friends, going out to eat, attending sporting events to watch his children and grandchildren. Joe was very active in his church, Avalon Missionary. He loved teaching Sunday School and serving in various capacities at the church. His faith in Jesus Christ was the driving force of his life and he shared his faith with anyone who would listen. He credited his grandmother with bringing him to faith and he made sure that his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren heard about his Savior. Also in his leisure time, he loved to golf, listen to music, and entertain others with his stories and jokes. While family and friends rejoice that he is in Heaven, he will be greatly missed. Joseph is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter, Jennifer (Larry) Johnson; son, Jim (Joyce) Pitzer; grandchildren, Joseph Pitzer, Lindsey (Shawn) Baker, Jill (Uriah) Wolfe, Amy (Justin) Shurley, and Jackie (Josh) DeHaven. Also surviving are great-grandchildren, Eli, Emery, Allie, Bella, Kenzie, Kendal, Karly, Noel Joseph, and Ada. Joe’s lifelong best friend for 74 years, Ray Zenkert and his family were considered a very special part of Joe’s life. Shirley’s children were a very important part of Joe’s family and he loved her six (one deceased) children and spouses, twenty five grandchildren, and thirty eight (And one more expected) great-grandchildren, considering them as his own. The family would like to thank the staff of Coventry Meadows and Southern Care Hospice for their kindness, care, and support. A private family service will be held and a Celebration of Life will be held for family and friends at a later date. The family funeral service will be viewable on the Elzey-Patterson-Rodak Facebook Page starting on Saturday, January 30, 2021. Preferred memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association or Avalon Missionary Church. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Pitzer family.


  • Alzheimer’s Association or Avalon Missionary Church


  • A Private Family Service Will Be Held, A Public Celebration in Honor of Joseph's Life will be Held at a Later Date


Joseph H. Pitzer Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mark and Joni Lee

4 February 2021

Years ago we would enjoy watching ballgames with Joe. Then just last year we enjoyed visiting with him at Lutheran Rehab when mom was there.
Our sympathies to Joe’s family.

Mark and Joni Lee

Brian and Nancy Buck

3 February 2021

We have fond memories of Joe, always a quiet, gentle presence at church. We rejoice to know he is in heaven with his Savior and loved ones who have gone before.

Caryl Dafforn

1 February 2021

I was saddened to hear that Joe has passed away. Joe and Jeanette were youth group leaders at Yoder Missionary Church when I was a teenager. Their Christian faith was evident in everything they said and did. They were great examples. My sincere sympathy to the family. I know Joe will be missed.

Caryl (Habegger) Dafforn

Virgil & Ann Curley

30 January 2021

We have many fond memories of times we spent together with Joe and his wife and couples from Avalon Missionary Church. Joe always enjoyed being with people. He could repeat poetry that had great messages. He was always up to lighthearted fun. As we are so saddened to lose his presence here on earth, but we know Joe is with the Lord rejoicing and worshipping in the His presence.
We pray that all of his beloved family will find comfort in their father and grandfather's faithfulness in The Lord. We love you all.
Virgil and Ann Curley

Jim-Barb Lambert

30 January 2021

Sorry for your loss. Sending prayers, sympathies and condolences to the Pitzer families and friends. He was a teacher's principal that cared about the lives of his staff and students at Adams Elementary. He exemplified reverence to his wife when she was sick. A true family man pertaining to his children and grandkids. May he Rest in Peace and God Bless. Jim Lambert

Melvin Herring

28 January 2021

Shirley and family. So very sorry to hear of Joe's passing.
I always enjoyed spending a little time with him and you.
I am not very good at saying what my brain is telling me to say
but helping both of you at tax time was my pleasure.
I am adding your family in my prayers.

Shirley Daugherty

27 January 2021

A finer Christian man I have not known than Joe Pitzer. He always told us he was praying. Heaven is richer and we will miss him. See you at the Rapture. Or when our souls meet Joe. Shirley and Jim Daugherty

Vera Drew

27 January 2021

Mr. Pitzer was my 5th-grade teacher at McCulloch School. I thought that he was one of the best teachers ever. He was kind and very encouraging. He and Mr. Jarret (6th grade) made a great team. Even after decades of seeing me, he recognized me when he picked me up as a driver from the Chevy dealer to take me home. He was an unforgettable person. May the family be comforted in knowing that he definitely got his wings and is now resting safely in the arms of Jesus. Vera Scruggs/Drew

Ann Nichols

27 January 2021

I taught at Adams School for 20+ years. The majority of those years were with Mr. Pitzer as my principal. I met him at the old Harmar School in 1967, when he was an assistant principal. Mr. Pitzer was such a magnificent , thoughtful, hardworking person. Our staff loved coming to work. We looked forward to hearing him walk the halls with taps on his shoes. He loved interacting with the students. He would come to our classrooms to teach Character Education to the students. He would stop children in the halls to drill them on their multiplication facts. He was a wonderful principal to work with. The Adams Staff remained a close- knit unit even after he retired. I loved my years with Mr. Pitzer. May he rest in peace!
Ann Nichols
Tempe, AZ

Albert Bohnstedt

27 January 2021

I first met Joe at a Christian Teachers meeting, probably in 1961. We reconnected for a short time while he was at McCulloch School. He and I shared some of the colleague camaraderie over the years.

I enjoyed the time we shared during a National Convention of Elementary School Principals in Philadelphia.

From the Family