Joseph John Putnick

August 13, 1944March 20, 2023
Obituary of Joseph John Putnick
Joseph John Putnick of Evanston, Illinois, died peacefully at home at the age of 78 on March 20, 2023. Joe was born and raised in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia and was the youngest of the late Helen and Frank Putnick’s three children. He attended Saint Joseph’s Preparatory High School and was a proud member of his high school rowing team. Joe often spoke of the time he spent crewing on the Schuylkill River, where he remembered being in the best shape of his life. Upon graduation from High School, Joe entered the Society of Jesus, better known as “The Jesuits.” He spent four years studying in Wernersville, PA and then continued his education at Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, IL. During his time at Bellarmine, he worked alongside Msgr. Jack Egan and Jack MacNamara through the formation of the Contract Buyers League, a grassroots organization supporting residents of North Lawndale that fought discriminatory real estate practices. His work with the Contract Buyers League was foundational and inspired him to leave the Jesuits to become an attorney. He graduated from Loyola University School of Law in 1973 and found incredible meaning in his work as a Real Estate Attorney. Throughout his fifty years working as a lawyer, Joe stayed true to his personal mission of providing compassionate legal services at very reasonable rates and providing pro-bono legal assistance to many. He was especially dedicated to alleviating poverty and served as both a long-standing board member for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and a long-time contributor to Gawad Kalinga, an organization committed to ending poverty in the Philippines. Joe was a passionate sports fan. He loved watching any game, if it was a good one - all sports, all teams. He spent many seasons coaching his children and grandchildren’s baseball, basketball and soccer teams and valued the relationships forged in the Evanston community through those years. Until recently, he could be seen at Central Park watching random little league baseball games - just because. In 1997, Joe and his best friend Ed Shurna along with his daughter Jessica signed up for the AIDS ride. He spent many hours training in order to make the trip from Minneapolis to Chicago and at the end of the ride, despite the rain and long days - Joe was officially a cyclist. He loved riding his bike and enjoyed many miles flying through the local forest preserves, along Sheridan Road or any opportunity to wear his Polish Eagles bike jersey and ride with his big brother Len. This past summer, Joe purchased an electric bike (to give him a little boost) and enjoyed every minute he spent on his new bike. Joe’s friendships were so important to him. He made a point to keep in touch with old friends and constantly spoke of how grateful he was to have so many wonderful people in his life. Most notably, Joe met regularly with his “Men's Group” - a support network made up of his closest friends that provided him with opportunities for introspection, happy tears and growth. While Joe had many passions, the four greatest joys in his life were his grandchildren Ave, Lily, Kai and Jolie. He loved them so much and was incredibly involved in their lives. He drove their carpools, watched every performance and cheered at every game; he never missed a moment. We are so grateful. Joe valued relationships. He was a sweet, kind and humble soul who greeted everyone he met with a warm smile and questions about their life. He was everyone’s attorney. He was everyone’s friend. The world is a better place because of Joe Joe. We will miss him every day. Joe is survived by his wife Mary Ellen Gornick; daughter Jessica Sandstrom (Scott Schiller); son Matt Putnick (Toni Zaccagnino); grandchildren Ave Sandstrom, Lily Sandstrom, Kai Sandstrom, and Jolie Putnick; brother Leonard (Joan) Putnick; sisters-in-law Margaret (late Frank) Putnick, Anne Claire (Danny) Colantuono, Margaret Gornick; and brothers-in-law Frank (Gloria) Gornick and James (Patti) Gornick. Joe was a proud uncle to Mary Therese (John) Friel, Melanie and Tom Dilullo, Frank (Kathy) Putnick, Marybeth Putnick, Sara (Jeff) Blair, Dominic (Sharon) Colantuono, Daniel (Denise) Colantuono, David (Marisa) Colantuono, Chad (Evett) Jones, Frankie Gornick, Anita (Joe) Izzo, Victoria Gornick, Christina Gornick, Gina (Larry) Santoro, Jim Gornick, Joanna (Casey) Erickson and many grandnieces and grandnephews. Joe was preceded in death by his brother Frank, sister-in-law Julianne Koffend, and former son-in-law Scott Sandstrom. A Celebration of Life will be held on Earth Day - April 22, 2023 at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Visit with Friends & Family 1-3:30 pm; Tribute 4:00 pm. For more information: In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the following charities as an expression of sympathy: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless - or Gawad Kalinga - Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Putnick family.

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Past Services

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Celebration of Life Gathering