Joseph (Happy Joe) John Zupancich Jr., 80 of Soudan, dies

Joseph (Happy Joe) John Zupancich Jr., 80 of Soudan, Minnesota, died peacefully at his home on October 22, 2018. He was born on August 10, 1938, in Ely to Joseph Sr. and Mary (Gasperlin) Zupancich.
Joe graduated from Ely High School in 1956 where he served as his senior class president. Following graduation he left to attend college at St. Thomas University to hone his entrepreneurial skills to help run the family business, Zupancich Brother’s Incorporated (Zup’s). Joe gave up his dream of becoming a Tommy graduate to marry the love of his life on July 9, 1960. Joe and Mary Lou raised five children; all of them worked at Zup’s to learn the family business. Happy Joe, a self-proclaimed “Sausalogist,” loved working side by side with his sons every day. He could often be found sipping coffee with the guys in the spice room of Zup’s; bestowing his wisdom and one liners to his captive audience.
Fourteen years ago Joe “retired” but never stopped working. He traveled to Ely every morning at 5:00 a.m. to ensure the meat department at Zup’s ran smoothly--from the weekly smoking of hot bologna and Polish sausage to the occasional batch of blood sausage and zelodic.
Joe was a devout member of St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Tower, a former volunteer firefighter for the Breitung Township and a former small airplane pilot. In his earlier years, he enjoyed fishing at Zup’s Lac La Croix near the Canadian border. Joe loved the outdoors and cutting wood, a hobby that was passed down to him by his father. Joe also loved to pass time visiting with family and friends.
Joe is survived by his wife of 58 years Mary Lou, his children Mary Jo Threinen, Angie (Carl) Enroth, Joseph Zupancich III, Steven (Renee) Zupancich, Christine (Kraig) Larson, eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren, sister Zoe (Frank) Planton, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Tower at 11:00 with a visitation one hour prior to the service.

Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.