Skip to content

Joseph Rivera

Joe was born in Springfield, MO on June 9, 1956, to Joseph and Barbara Ann Cologna Rivera, the oldest of six Rivera children. With father, Joe, serving in the Air Force the family moved every year, adding a boy to the family with each move to Iowa, Colorado and back to Missouri.
Having lots of boys so close together in age led to all sorts of mischief, whether testing out the limits of starting little fires that may have then grown to literal barn burners or playing “ball” without an actual ball and substituting a brick instead, resulting in one of many scars. After all the brothers, he was finally blessed at age 14 with the best little sister, this reference being one of the many times she would have a little fun at Joe’s expense since he elected not to write his obituary.
Joe graduated from Richmond High School in 1974 after lettering in golf and basketball, despite his shorter than typical height for a point guard but still led his team to the state tournament his senior year. From Richmond, he stopped briefly in Kansas City and then to Mount Ayr, IA where he began a laboratory technology career that spanned over 40 years. His lab co-workers would soon learn of his fierce devotion to excellence and his insistence on getting it right for their patients. More importantly, he met and married his dear wife, Jayne, and they welcomed their son, Joseph Robert, in 1982.Their marriage was filled with much love and laughter, ending only after Jayne developed leukemia and passed away in 1990, but not before spurring over 1200 Iowans to sign up for the University of Iowa Bone Marrow Registry.
Many may not know that Jayne and Jennifer were the best of friends in 1999, after Joe had moved to Michigan, Joe and Jennifer began a long-distance courtship, filled with long handwritten letters and weekend phone calls while both watching televised golf tournaments and commenting about the golf and occasionally one making a nine-hour drive to visit the other. They married in July 2001 and settled in Boone, IA. Joe and Jennifer volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, enjoyed many hours on the golf course or in the bowling alley, worked tirelessly on their home’s landscaping and hosted legendary parties for family, friends and an endless stream of Iowa State graduate students. He would often gravitate to the youngest in the room, whether to wrestle or tease or tickle, but always to make them laugh. Upon retiring from Boone County Hospital in 2019, Joe and Jennifer moved to Port Charlotte, FL, the next year where Joe happily avoided all snowstorms and refined his golf game while Jennifer enjoyed the pool and the beach.
If there was a sporting event on TV, he was typically watching. Golf, football, basketball, baseball, bowling. It didn’t have to be a live sporting event either, as he would also indulge in the re-airing of the sports classics, especially the Celtics/Lakers series of the ‘80’s. If there was a wage involved, you could bet (pun intended) that Joe’s intensity would ratchet higher and almost always his performance as well, much to JD’s, Joe’s and the Teamsters’ chagrin as they usually had to hand over the money to Joe after his victory, which he would share in great detail for months on end.
Joe is survived by his wife, Jennifer Rivera of Port Charlotte, FL, his son, Joe of Boone, IA, stepson, JD Winters of Boone, IA, his adored granddaughter, Mally Jayne Rivera of Boone, IA, brothers, Bob Rivera, and wife, Shelly, of Story City, IA, Tom Rivera, and wife, Debbie of Boiling Springs, SC, David Rivera and wife, Pam, of Sedalia, MO; sister, Michele Rivera Roper, and husband, Mark Roper, of Lee’s Summit, MO and 30 nieces and nephews who called him “Uncle” or countless others who fondly called him “Papa Joe,” or “Unky Joe”.
Joe was preceded in death by his mother, Barbara Ann Cologna Rivera, father, Joseph Rivera, first wife, Jayne Ann Gross Rivera, brother Michael Edward Rivera, sister-in-law, Janet Lim Rivera; nephew, PFC Brandon C. Sturdy, USMC, his in laws, Joe and Helen Gross, Larry Brown and Ken and Shirley Lett.
Some of his ashes will be spread with permission on the seventh tee of the Shirkey Golf Course in Richmond, next to those of hie dear friend and high school teammate, Greg Norris.
He may be fondly remembered by his family, co-workers, golf buddies and dear friends for his disdain of cell phones and texting or being teased for the hot flashes caused by the estrogen treatments he endured during his prostate cancer, but mostly he will be terribly, terribly missed.

Leave a Comment