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James Witkowski of Massapequa: Former finance director never sat still

When James Witkowski wasn't doing construction projects around

When James Witkowski wasn't doing construction projects around the home, he enjoyed bicycling and often would go on rides of more than 100 miles, one of his daughter said. Credit: Peggy Witkowski

Some years ago, Jim Witkowski fell off a ladder and broke his femur, a debilitating injury that had him laid up for months.

During rehabilitation, his physical therapist taught him how to walk up and down the stairs, using a crutch. Soon, his wife, Peggy, was surprised to see Jim making his way down the stairs, carrying a handful of laundry.

He always had to be doing something productive, Peggy said.

James J. Witkowski Jr., of Massapequa, died May 4 in Plainview Hospital due to complications from the coronavirus, his daughter, Jaclyn Witkowski-Kelley, said. He was 65. He caught the virus while taking care of his mother, Joyce T. Witkowski, who also died from complications due to the virus, Witkowski-Kelley said.

Joyce Witkowski died April 6 at St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Bethpage, at 88.

James Witkowski was born in Bayside, Queens, on Dec. 7, 1954. He grew up in Massapequa and went to Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, where Peggy also attended. The two did not meet until after they had graduated. They married in 1978.

He went to New York Tech, now called New York Institute of Technology,  after high school, and then earned an MBA at Adelphi University. He made a career in the finance industry, retiring in 2016 from TIAA-CREF as the director of finance.

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After his retirement, “he was busy all the time,’’  his wife said. “He did a lot of woodworking. My daughter bought a house, and he did a lot of work on the house. He never sat."

When he wasn’t doing construction projects around the home, he enjoyed bicycling and often would go on rides of more than 100 miles, Witkowski-Kelley said.

His mother, Joyce Kelleher, was born in Bayside on April 15, 1931. Her father was in the military, and she was living in Panama and had to be evacuated when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. They sailed on a ship to New Orleans, from where they made their way back to New York.

Joyce grew up in Bayside and married her high school sweetheart, James J. Witkowski Sr., in 1953. They moved to Massapequa in 1956 and raised five children. After James Sr. died in 1984, Joyce got a job working as a clerk for the Nassau County Department of Assessment, where she worked until around 2005.

James Witkowski Jr. is survived by his wife; his brothers Tom, of Wilmington, N.C., and Robert, of Massapequa; his sisters, Mary Ellen Grimes and Susan Duncan, both of Massapequa; his daughters, Jaclyn Witkowski-Kelley, of Plymouth, N.H., and Michelle and Lauren Witkowski, both of North Babylon, and one granddaughter.

Joyce Witkowski is survived by a brother, Matthew Dennis Kelleher of Carmel by the Sea, California, two daughters and two sons, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Joyce Witkowski was buried at Calverton National Cemetery, and a memorial service may be held at a future date. A socially distanced funeral service for James Witkowski was held at his home on May 9. He was cremated.

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