Hodges-Kiser Funeral Home

9231 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL


Joseph "Joe" Edward BIRSA

July 10, 1923July 27, 2020

Joseph (Joe) Birsa, passed on July 27, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida, shortly after celebrating his recent 97th birthday. Survived by his brother, David (Bill) Birsa, two sisters in law Mary Lou (David) and Ann (Art), nieces Leanne Murray, Anita, Beth and Christie Birsa and nephew Gary Birsa. Laid to rest at his Parish, in the St. John XXIII Catholic Church Memorial Garden.

Born Joseph Edward Birsa on July 10, 1923. Joe resided in Rockdale, IL, attended St. Joseph Joliet Grade School and Joliet Township High School. After his Naval service in the South Pacific during World War II, Joe opened The Porthole Tavern in Rockdale, IL with his brother Art. The two brothers later opened and operated the Joliet Franksville Restaurant, where Joe knew many repeat customers not only by name but also by their regular order. Joe retired to Fort Myers, Florida in 1981.

Joe was involved in auto racing from the early fifties on, active in U.A.R.A. Midget Auto Racing and also drove Stock Cars on tracks around the Midwest. He was a member of the 1983 U.S.A.C. Dirt Championship Racing team, sponsored by his lifelong friend, Tim Delrose. In 2005 Joe was inducted into the Mazon Speed Bowl – Grundy County Speedway Hall of Fame.

Joe remained youthful at heart, active and independent throughout his 97 years. He stayed involved and in contact with his nieces and nephews and their children and enjoyed corresponding including text messaging! He was a devout Catholic his entire life. He enjoyed daily mass and the rosary, offering prayer intentions for so many family and friends, he said it required more than just one rosary per day to cover everyone.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1329 Belleview Ave., Rockdale IL 60436.

Racers Prayer Lord I pray as I race today Keep me safe along the way. Not only me but others too As they perform the jobs they do.

I know GOD, that in the race I, the driver, must set the pace. Help me Lord along the way.

Although I know I am a sinner, Help me to believe, that with God you’re always a winner.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Joseph "Joe" Edward BIRSA

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