Joseph F. Litwin Jr.
Joseph F. Litwin Jr., born January 10, 1943 in Lynn, MA and son to Joseph F. Litwin and Louise Sobol Litwin, passed away suddenly March 7, 2015 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was surrounded by his loving family, his wife of 44 years, June, and his daughters and sons in-law, Kass and Michael McInnis of Portsmouth, NH and Lauren and Mark Brassard of Londonderry, NH.
Joe and June moved to Hollis, NH as newlyweds in 1971. After a year of marriage, they made a 3,000-mile meandering bicycle/camping trip beginning in Ireland and ending in Germany during which they bonded deeply. Both treasured the many experiences and people along the way. During a winter’s pause in their trip, Joe worked for Seimens in Munich, translating English manuals to German users. Language was never a deterrent from communicating as they traveled on through countries south and east along the Mediterranean Sea, only something to learn like local customs. In Hollis, they made deep roots where they raised their daughters and had the good fortune to make lifelong friends.
Having met as hikers in the White Mountains, June called Joe her “Mountain Man.” He sojourned to the North Country since hitchhiking as a young Massachusetts teen, and all the years thereafter where he was ever refreshed by old and new friends, nature, being above tree line, the science of weather and his own company. It was a joy to him to paddle with June on Lake Umbagog with their little girls to camp in the wilderness and share the simplicity of it all. Be it cloud, stream, river, pond, lake or ocean, he loved water in every form and they experienced it all with him and often thanks to the open doors of their extended family on the coast of Maine.
After a keen interest in high school of seismology, Joe’s first unique adventures were on the Greenland Ice Cap as a college student for four extended summers. Hired by The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory with a particular focus on the mechanics of deformation of snow and ice, it was not unusual for young Joe to be lowered by rope into crevasses or left far out from base camp to collect samples by ice axe or auger. His cohorts were men of science whom he found learned, fascinating and fun and each an unusual being. This led to his role as an electrical engineer in Research and Development for Sanders Associates and Nashua Corporation in Nashua, NH.
One of Joe’s remarkable adventures was skiing from France to Italy on The High Ridge Tour with a close friend, guiding themselves with well-studied maps, guide books and forever prized equipment through the dangers of the Swiss Alps. Whatever the excursion, he reached out quietly but confidently with a friendly comment and smile to everyone along life’s way even for a moment, showing sincere respect and interest in whoever people were and what they doing, offering a hand if he saw he might help.
The “Happy Wanderer,” traveling via his loved red truck, bike, Limmer boots or skis, Joe shared a deep camaraderie and trust with a few Hollis men, a true brotherhood, with whom he hiked and camped from the hills of England to the wilds of Utah’s slot canyons and the beauty and the Whites in winter. For many years, he was part of the close team that cooked the chicken for the Annual Hollis Old Home Days barbecue, truly enjoying “the guys” and one of his tasks in the process, tender of the fire. And close to home, too, Joe found great pleasure knowing the folks at Parker’s Barn and his woodland work tapping the trees and collecting the sap by an efficient means he devised.
His inquisitive and scientific mind and creativity kept Joe a student and inventor for life who continually gained new knowledge and skills, living life exactly as he wanted. He created and marketed a device to measure solar energy, monitoring equipment for remote weather stations and communication systems using meteor trails. He also helped small farmers in Peru and Jamaica market sugar cane and habanero peppers from soil to the Boston markets, the story of his life, making new friends in countries and continents near and far.
Joe’s life will be remembered at an intimate gathering at a future date, as he would have said, in the church of the open sky.