MADISON – Joseph Michael “Joe” Conway, Sr, age 85, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Austin, TX. Joe was born on February 23, 1933 in Westport, WI to parents Frank and Lucy (Walker) Conway.
Joe graduated from Madison Central High School in 1952. He enlisted in the United States Army, serving his country from 1953-1955. He was stationed in Korea during wartime, serving as an MP with the rank of Corporal. Upon returning from Korea, Joe worked for Vogel Brothers Construction as a proud member of Laborers’ Local 464. In addition, he continued to work with his father and brothers, putting in and taking out piers on the Madison lakes, most notably the original Edgewater Hotel pier.
In 1958, Joe began his career with the Madison Fire Department serving for 32 years, retiring in 1989 at the rank of Lieutenant. During his time on the MFD, he was very active in Fire Fighters Local 311 holding many positions before being elected President of the local in 1979. During his 10 years as President, he worked hard at improving the safety and working conditions of his members.
In the mid 1960’s, Joe started, owned and operated “Conway Concrete”, a flatwork construction company that employed his children and other firefighters. He continued to finish concrete well into his 80’s and had a few jobs lined up for this year.
Joe was an avid sports fan and athlete, playing basketball and baseball for Central High School. He continued his love of sports by sponsoring and coaching his kid’s baseball teams. He coached his “Conway Concrete” teams to multiple championships in the “Monona American Legion” baseball program and later the “Lancer League” program in which he cofounded in the late 60’s with other parents/coaches.
In 1983, Joe inherited “Walkers” tavern from his uncle Fritz, four years later, Joe and his wife Bobbi took over the operation of the tavern, renaming it “Joe’s Fire Station” and operating it continuously to this day. Joe and Bobbi were unique in their operation of “Joe’s”, taking care of, and making many patrons part of their extended family. They especially loved opening up their home every Christmas Eve for their “family” from the tavern.
Joe was a proud veteran and member of the VFW and American Legion Post #534, He was also a member of the Monona Grove Businessmen’s Association.
Joe never slowed down; he was an avid reader, enjoyed keeping up with news and politics, working on projects and fixing things around the house and tavern. He loved running his Bobcat, spending time at the cabin in the “Dells”, spending time with his grandchildren, traveling with Bobbi and occasionally stopping at a casino or two.
Joe is survived by his wife of nearly 36 years, Bobbi Conway, Madison; children, Michael (Ginny) Conway, Houston, TX, Patricia (Dave) Krall, Cottage Grove, Joe (Jenny) Conway, Jr, Janesville, Bill Conway, Madison, Donald Conway, Madison, Deb Conway, Madison, Bryon (Tina) Sande, Madison; former daughter-in-law, Shelley Conway, Madison; grandchildren, Mason, Logan, Christy, Blake, Dylan, Joe III, Jeff, Kerry, Kaylie, Jake, Glen, Sydney, McKenzie, Brooke; great-grandchildren, Holden, Nicholas and Gianna; siblings, Margaret Bongard, Dorothy Reichling, Pat Conway, Bob Conway, Mary Harrington and Delores Conway; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Donald and Francis “Fritz” Conway; and his favorite dogs, Shadow and FiFi.
A sincere thank you for the support of family and friends in Texas to: Jackie (Leslie) Boyd, Roy (Francine) Salo, Paul (Sally) Vizenor, Norma Wallgren, Rita Saylor, Trina Martin and a special thank you from Bobbi to Joe’s children during this difficult time.
Memorials may be made in Joe’s name to the Empty Stocking Club, PO Box 8056, Madison 53708 or Toys for Tots. Joe loved Christmas, and never wanted to see a child go without a present Christmas morning.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM, visitation one hour before Mass at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 2450 Atwood Ave., Madison. Visitation will be held on Monday, April 16 from 3:00 to 7:00 PM at Ryan Funeral Home, 2418 Sherman Ave., Madison. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com
Ryan Funeral Home
& Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Avenue
Empty Stocking Club
PO Box 8056, Madison WI 53708
Toys for Tots