Joseph Svec

Obituary of Joseph George Svec

Joseph George Svec, age 84, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 27, 2018, in his home in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

Born in Cicero and raised in Berwyn, Illinois, by first-generation Czechoslovakian immigrant parents, Joseph and Marie Svec, Joe went on to establish a career in academics as Professor of Theater Arts. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theater Arts, English and History at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and  his Master’s degree in Theater Arts at The University of Wisconsin in Madison where he wrote his dissertation,  “Czech Theater  1918-1938”. He then taught briefly at Minot State University, North Dakota and Valparaiso University, Indiana before returning to Cornell as Professor of Theater for the duration of his career. In addition to directing and designing sets for all college productions, he established a summer community theater and a well-loved student-directed children's theater program.


During his summer months off from teaching and directing theater, Joe's interests in architecture and history were employed in the restoration of historic homes in Mt. Vernon.  He took great pride and care in rehabilitating them to their original appearance and greatly contributed to the preservation of Mt. Vernon's beauty and appeal. After retirement, he embarked on his final project, restoring an Opera House in West Branch, Iowa.


He also had a deep passion for music and visitors could expect to hear the local classical music station played throughout the day.  He enjoyed collecting vintage recordings, eventually selling to customers world-wide.


He married colleague, Karen Coburn, who had assisted him often with his musical theater productions. After retirement, the couple enjoyed traveling, residing for many years in Tucson, Arizona with several extended stays in Prague, Czech Republic and eventually settling in Karen's hometown of Whitewater, Wisconsin.


Joe is survived by his wife, Karen, two sons from a previous marriage, John Svec and Joe Svec III (Teresa), and grandchildren Joe Svec IV, (14) and Thalia Svec (11) all of Iowa City, Iowa. 


Joe was a kind, generous and creative man, and will be dearly missed.


The Nitardy Funeral Home, Whitewater, WI is assisting the family.

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