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Joseph Funk of Westbury: Retired NYC transit cop was a loving patriarch

Joseph Funk died in May of the coronavirus.

Joseph Funk died in May of the coronavirus. Credit: Janet Kobel

Joseph Funk loved sports, music, gardening and dogs. Above all else, though, the Westbury resident loved people, especially his family, with whom he shared all his passions.

Funk, a retired transit police officer in New York City, died May 4 of COVID-19. He was 77.

Funk was born on Nov. 3, 1942, in Richmond Hill, Queens. When he was 3, Funk moved with his parents into a Westbury house that his children and grandchildren would eventually also call home.

While attending Carle Place High School, Funk was both a defensive and offensive lineman on the football team, earning his place on the school’s wall of fame. His two granddaughters, Elizabeth and Emma Kobel, often would walk by his legacy on their way to gym class.

After graduating high school in 1960, Funk attended Hofstra University for a year. He then spent two years at Nassau Community College. Funk served in the National Guard from 1967 to 1969 and worked as a New York City Transit police officer in Queens from 1964 to 1979, according to his daughter Janet Kobel.

In addition to working as a transit officer, Funk took a second job driving buses for Pierce Coachline, providing transportation for Carle Place students until 1982. He then worked as head of security for ADI Global Distribution in Melville until the early 2000s.

"I remember going with him to sit on the bus and everyone would say he was the best person ever because he would give these big bags of candy to all the kids," Kobel said. "He was just fun."

Though Funk got divorced in the early 2000s, he and his ex-wife, Joan Funk, became close friends and would often go shopping or grab lunch, even going to doctor visits together, Janet Kobel said.

Kobel remembers her father’s love for Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. She would go to '50s-style concerts with Funk throughout her childhood, specifically at the Westbury Music Fair.

Her older brother, Joseph Funk Jr., recalled the special day when his father took him on his first trip to New York City.

"I remember being on the train for the first time and seeing these big buildings … he was so proud to show me around," Funk's son said.

Funk watched Mets and Jets games with his children and helped them grow marigolds and tomatoes. Funk continued those traditions with his granddaughters once they all lived under the same roof.

"When my father became a grandfather, his life changed," Kobel said. "It was the best thing that ever happened to him."

Each night, his granddaughters would head downstairs and say good night. In the morning, Funk’s alarm would go off so he could see them off to school. The family dog, Peyton, named after former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, would keep Funk company and could frequently be found on his lap.

"I remember his big smile and him saying ‘have a good day, Lizzy,’" said Elizabeth Kobel, Funk's oldest granddaughter.

Funk made sure to attend every flag football and volleyball game to cheer his granddaughters as well as each of their violin concerts. He and his granddaughters also watched "Star Wars" movies together, went out to lunch and visited libraries and parks.

Emma Kobel recalled spending afternoons at Roosevelt Field mall and dining on Johnny Rockets with him. The day after Funk died, Janet Kobel planted marigolds in her front yard to honor him.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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