Posts Tagged ‘Joe Habersky’

Joe Habersky: Heroes Without Headlines, Part 8

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Joe Habersky: Heroes Without Headlines, Part 8

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

Joe did not live for yesterday. He was not afraid of tomorrow. He lived for today.

I met Joe Habersky in 1968. I was a young college teacher, he was an enthusiastic student. It was a perfect combination. He helped mejoe become a better teacher. I helped him refine his research and writing skills. After he graduated, he stayed in touch and for 45 years we have been learning and growing together.

We did not see one another every day, but as LM Montgomery wrote, “We were always together in spirit.”

The Joe Habersky I knew was a joyful person, a thoughtful person, an interesting person, a giving person and a spiritual person. He attended our documentary screenings, he supported the production of Windsor Park Stories, and he volunteered to work in our garden. He was the first person to call Kitch after my open heart surgery, and he was an enthusiastic supporter of our Face of America project.

When Mario Puzo wrote these words he was describing our friendship:

Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.


In my heart and mind, Joe was family and a lot more.

He was a lifetime learner who honored the advice of Henry Ford:

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

He was loyal and he respected loyalty in others. For him, Grace Murray Hopper said it all in 11 words:

Leadership is a two-way street, Loyalty up and loyalty down.

Joe liked to laugh and he enjoyed making people in his company laugh. An adaptation of the words of Mary H. Waltdrip apply, Joe’s laugh was a smile that burst!

Joe was a spiritually grounded person. His faith, his service to his church and the connections he made with members of various spiritually-centered organizations gave his life meaning and purpose.

In 2008, he gave me Richard Rohr’s Thingsnote Hidden Scripture as Spirituality. The note he wrote to describe the book spoke volumes about his search for spirituality:

This book was a heart expanding as well as mind blowing experience for me.
I hope it will prove interesting to you in your journey of the heart and perhaps take you to the “heights’ of your future.

Why did this book have such a powerful impact on Joe?

There are many reasons.

He was searching for a true, inner spiritual experience.

He understood that life is not a straight line to God.

He knew we are a little strand in a much larger tapestry.

RR BookHe believed that goodness is not about becoming spiritual beings. It is about becoming human beings.

Rohr’s assertion that we must go down before we can know what is up was a “mind blowing thought” for Joe. Pain and suffering destabilizes our arrogance and ignorance. If we do not find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, humanity is in major trouble.

He was convinced that we are our relationships. His relationship with the God he loved was central to his life, and the substantial relationships he cultivated with friends and family were an offspring of his spirituality.

Joe was a humble person who enjoyed sharing his gifts with others. He was literally a big man with a very big heart.

He was a family man who loved his wife Karen and his daughter Elena.

The words of Morrie Schwartz were almost biblical for Joe:

The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all.

He agreed with John Wooden’s assessment of the importance of family;

It is most difficult, in my mind, to separate any success, whether it be in your profession, your family, or as in my case, in basketball, from religion.

gardenThe Joe Habersky I knew was not looking for attention. He did not want to be a celebrity. He cultivated meaningful connections with people. On the day his obituary was published, Kitch and I received this note from a young man who has been a part of my life since the day he was born.

Dear Tony and Kitch:

I was saddened to hear of the news of Joe.  He was such a good man.  I know how important he was to both of you.  I always enjoyed spending time with him at your various functions.  We are hurting today but have yet another guardian angel to watch over us.  I hope you both feel a little bit of comfort in knowing how much you meant to him and how happy he was to be part of Windsor Park and the Face of America – but most to the lives of Tony and Kitch Mussari.

You are both in my prayers.


Joe Habersky is no longer with us. Those of us who knew him areGLecture saddened by his passing. We feel the emptiness of loss, but we know that his spirit lives on in the hearts of those he touched with encouragement, friendship, gratitude and kindness.

The emptiness I feel is deeply rooted in my belief that the teacher should never outlive the student. We teach because we want the student to equal and surpass the teacher in all the ways that matter in life.

Thomas Merton was right, “Death is something we see very clearly with eyes in the center of our heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of chill from within the marrow of your own life.” It is the ultimate teacher.

In life and in death, Joe Habersky showed us the way to inner peace and happiness. His legacy will remain in our hearts forever.

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