Joseph James Shary

December 23, 1925May 27, 2021

Shary, Joseph James, age 95, passed on May 27, 2021 in Indianapolis. Joe was born December 23, 1925 to Ignac and Mary (Holojad) Sucharyk, the eldest son of Ukrainian immigrants, in Cleveland, Ohio. Growing up in the multi-ethnic Tremont area of Cleveland, Joe learned English in school and often accompanied his mom to the butcher, grocer, or doctor to help her navigate household responsibilities for his much younger brothers. “Sooch” played basketball for Lincoln High School, worked odd jobs, such as setting pins in the local bowling alley and maintaining the local pool hall. Joe left for WWII while his brothers were still in grade school, where he served with distinction as a reconnaissance scout in Patton’s third army, enduring cold winters in the Ardennes, and racing to meet the Russians in Berlin. Following the war’s end, Joe enrolled at Ohio University, where he majored in engineering and belonged to the TKE fraternity. In 1950, Joe moved to Cincinnati, to join GE’s jet aircraft division, bought his first car, and soon after, along with his brothers, shortened his last name to Shary. His parents made clear, that living in America meant being fully American, while respecting and celebrating their heritage (especially their hren, pierogi, mom’s homemade bread, and pysanky), Joe wanted his name to sound American. He earned his master’s degree in business from Xavier and left GE to join Western Southern life in the treasury department. Joe met JoAnn Geers and married August 3, 1957 in Cincinnati at St. James in Wyoming. They had four children, first living in Silverton, then Madeira, before moving to Indianapolis in 1968. A job to run marketing for Buehler Jet Boat, took them there, as Buehler was making critical parts for Sikorsky helicopters during the Vietnam War. When Vietnam wound down, Joe was tabbed by Mayor Richard Lugar to start and run a new program called ASAP, which was a pioneering effort to address impaired driving. In 1975 Joe found his true professional calling when he joined ITT Technical Services where he counseled high school students all over central Indiana about trade degree paths. Many of his former students reached out to him over the years to thank him for his care and interest in their careers, and he never lacked for a great A/C or appliance repairman! Summers in the Shary family meant traveling to see cousins, as Joe made sure to keep the broader family in constant contact. He also loved the water, and that meant stays at Coldwater, Stone Lake or Wawasee, with a fully loaded station wagon and weeks of listening to the top hits from Fort Wayne’s pop radio station. Joe was also insistent that his children learn history and science, so trips to Chicago’s museums or picnics near historic covered bridges were on the docket. Joe and JoAnn were also very involved in their home parish of Christ the King, which also meant their kids were, with Joe serving for many years as the lead usher. Over the past 30 years, much of his attention was directed to his seven grandchildren. He was a frequent attendee at their school plays and grandparents’ days and was a contributor to a number of their school writings with stories about his childhood during the depression or experiences during war. A prolific email writer, Joe managed to get his money’s worth out of his EarthLink subscription, with messages to the family about character, religion, politics, poetry, and art. Only macular degeneration in his waning years slowed down his writing, but not his ever curious interest in what each family member was doing, what nearly every stranger he met was up to, and it often took a prod to end a conversation that seemingly started with a simple question from him. Joe is pre-deceased by his parents, his brothers John, Walter, and Frank and brother-in-law Mark Merkle. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, JoAnn, sisters-in-law Claire, Rita, Alreda, and Lois Geers. He also is survived by children, Mark (Teresa), Lisa, Cindy (Troy) Cowdrey, and Dee Dee (Terry) Connaughton, and grandchildren, Zach (Ali), Will, Tyler, Ryan, Sarah, Sean, and Jack. A Mass of Christian burial was held at 11:00am on June 7 at Christ the King Parish with interment following at Our Lady of Peace Chapel Mausoleum, both in Indianapolis. Friends and family, who wish, may make donations in Joe’s name to Christ the King.


  • Christ the King Catholic Church


  • Private Family Mass of Christian Burial

    Monday, June 7, 2021



Joseph James Shary

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Cara Shary

June 12, 2021

Joe was such an influential person to many, but especially to his brother, John. In youth, middle of life and most especially in facing end of life, dad referred often to Joe's courage; as a family man, a military man, a catholic man and a brother who was always there for others. Thank you, Joe, for inspiring everyone you touched, but most importantly, your brother John.

Rhonda Shary

June 7, 2021

Among my many, many treasured memories of my Uncle Joe, one that has stood out to me most vividly over the past week is the loving solicitousness and gentle teasing he always lavished on his mother, and the great respect and attentiveness he showed to my grandmother, Esther Koeppen, at family gatherings. He would make a point of sitting with her, to talk with her at length, soliciting her memories and sharing his, listening closely to what she had to say. They would always end up by laughing together, too, and that is a bright image and clear sound that is to be treasured. And I do, I treasure these memories, the example and the blessing and the joy that we were so privileged and so lucky to be given by the elders of our family, and I am moved to see the tradition of his best qualities living on in his grandsons and granddaughter, especially. This greatest generation remains with us now and forever in our hearts, but we do miss them all the same. Thank you, Uncle Joe, for your loving kindness and faithfulness to our family, a brilliant light, respected gentleman and scholar.

Terri Shary

June 7, 2021

As a little girl, I was a bit frightened of Uncle Joe, because he was such a big, tall man with a booming voice. But when we would all visit together as a family, he always greeted me saying "Terri and the Pirates" with a big smile on his face and of course, so much love in his voice. I would no longer be frightened because it also came with a loving hug. He was indeed a big, loving, wonderful man and Uncle to me.

Linda Shary

June 7, 2021

Uncle Joe gave me some of the best advice I ever had as a young, unsure woman of 20-something. When I wanted to move to NYC to pursue my dreams, I told him I was scared because it was an expensive place and I didn't quite know how I"d make my way. Uncle Joe responded: "Linda, you will have money problems whether you are poor or a millionaire. Don't ever let it keep you from doing what you want to do." I will miss your wisdom and sense of humor. Rest in peace, Uncle Joe.