Joseph Poracsky
1945 - 2021
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Joseph Poracsky found peace on April 8th, when he passed away comfortably at Bridge Haven in Lawrence due to complications from Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson's. Joseph was born on June 21, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Andrew and Mary (Anzalone) Poracsky.

He attended Waterford High School in Waterford, Connecticut. He then attended Clark University where he played on the varsity basketball team while dreaming of starting for the Boston Celtics. He served his country in the Navy and Naval Reserves while earning a Master's degree in Geography at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. from KU in 1983 in Geography and was a professor of Geography for 31 years at Portland State University, teaching cartography, remote sensing, and urban forestry. He also served on and chaired the Portland Urban Forestry Commission.

The master of dad jokes, Joe was quick to laugh, had a smile that could light up the northern hemisphere and had more patience than Oregon has fir trees.

He enjoyed reading about and traveling to Italy. If the teaching hadn't worked out, he could have opened up a ristorante in Sicily as he was a magician in the kitchen.

In addition to food, he enjoyed running races and through the forested trails of Portland. The Oregon Coast was a place of rest and relaxation for him, regardless of the weather. Watching KU basketball games on TV with family and friends was a weekly social event where he somehow managed to stay completely calm even during those last second nail biters. His preference for Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison was something his children did not truly appreciate until they were old enough to realize that lyrics actually can mean something. He also loved going to the movies and would see just about anything once. He channeled his inner Phog Allen and coached the Lawrence Boys Club basketball team for a few years in the early 80s.

Joe truly loved his family and was always there for them, whether it was meeting them at the ER after a car wreck, visiting colleges when his children were in high school, or helping his son move various times up and down the West Coast. He quietly offered his pragmatic advice, which his children should have followed more often. Babysitting his grandchildren was something he enthusiastically did and loved showing them off to his students, fellow professors and any stranger within earshot.

His wife, MJ Riehl, lives in Portland, Oregon. He has two stepsons, Troy and Darren. His sister, Fran (Michael) Hastedt, and brother, Rocco, live in Connecticut. His first wife, Laura Stull, lives in Lawrence. His daughter Kristina, son Rome, daughter-in-law Nikki, and four grandchildren (Finley, Sawyer, Ayden and Sydney), all of Lawrence, consider themselves the luckiest kids in the world to have been able to call him dad/pops/poppi. They only wish they had more time with him.

Joseph was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law, Barbara Musorofiti.

There will be a celebration of Joe's life later this summer in Portland, Oregon.

Memorial contributions may be made in Joseph's name to Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association and the National Audubon Society and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

Online condolences may be sent to

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Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Apr. 25, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
April 27, 2021
Our entire family loved Joe. So smart, soft spoken, modest with such a positive demeanor. Joe was a wonderful role model for the kids from childhood to adulthood. We were so lucky to have known Joe, and will all miss him immensely.
Tosh Seeman
April 25, 2021
I took every cartography class Joe taught back in the 80s! He was an amazing teacher and his ongoing work was foundational. Over the years, he was always positive and interested in the work of others. A true leader and mentor. My heartfelt condolences to his family members.
J Devlin
April 25, 2021
Ron Schmidt and I are so sorry to hear of Joe's death. We have such fond memories of time with him and MJ...please accept our sympathies and know that we are thinking of all of his family at this time. Love, Marian McDonald
Marian McDonald
April 25, 2021
Joe was a wonderful brother-in-law, always wonderful to be hanging out with this guy. He is truly missed.
Bob Riehl
April 25, 2021
My heartfelt condolences to MJ and the family. It is a sad day today that I have to say "good-bye" to my friend and next-door neighbor when he resided at Pioneer Ridge Independent Living in Lawrence, KS. Joe was kind, caring, interesting and a "one-of-a-kind person. I know I am not the only one who missed him when he left our community.
Grace Cooper
April 23, 2021
We have and will miss you to quaff beers on Wednesday nights at the Laurelwood Brew Pub. You were a dear friend and will be missed. Thank you for your friendship, wit, and guiding words of wisdom over the years.
Dan Seeman
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