Joseph Steve Zupancic, Jr.
Joseph Steve Zupancic, Jr., age 70, passed away Friday, July 13, 2012 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, after a courageous, but short battle with cancer.
Joe was born in Pueblo, Colorado on April 23, 1942 to the late Joseph and Mary Zupancic. He was a second generation American; his grandparents immigrated from Austria and Hungry.
He was the fourth of seven children who grew up in Bessemer and attended St. Francis Catholic School, and graduated from Pueblo South High School in 1960. After graduation he became a welder at CF&I Steel Mill. His career spanned 20 years, until he retired due to a back injury. Joe was proud to carry on the family tradition of steel workers including his father, Joe Sr., (who worked at CF&I for 50 years) as well as both of his grandfathers, brothers, uncles and cousins.
His love for racing began when he and his friends decided to build a stock-car in their backyard. When it was finished, his buddies handed Joe the keys and told him to drive. So at the age of 15, his racing career began at the old Pueblo Speedway. He went on to continue racing at Beacon Hill Speedway for the next 20 years, winning three championships in his career.
At the age of 19 he met, and later married Virginia “Sue” Simpson. They were married on September 30, 1967, in Pueblo. They actually met while “dragging Main” and Joe quickly introduced Sue to the world of racing. She said that if she had a dollar for every race he took her to over the years, she would be rich.
On July 9, 1973, Joe and Sue had a daughter – Kimberly Jo Zupancic. It wasn’t their intention to give Kim her father’s name. However, when she was born she looked so much like him that they changed her middle name to Jo which was quite fitting as Kim is, and always has been “daddy’s girl.” He passed on his love for racing to Kim, who admired her dad from the stands with her mom and grandma Zupancic. Racing was actually a family affair, as Joe’s brothers were often there with him as his pit crew, and his father directed traffic into the track every Sunday night. He later gave one of his cars to his youngest brother, Richard, and they were able to race against one another. One night, in 1972, while going down the backstretch they traded paint, sending Joe’s #57 upside-down, and over the back wall. For this, he received his upside-down trophy.
Joe, Sue, and Kim moved to Missouri in 1984. One summer after they moved to Lake of the Ozarks, Sue and her sister Bea Frisbie ran a restaurant where Joe was the cook. He absolutely loved it, and so a hobby was born. Sue said he missed his calling as a chef. They made a pact early on, if he would cook, she would clean up any mess he made in the kitchen…and he was just like his mother, so a mess he would make!
On January 19, 2001, Joe became a grandfather to his only grandson, Peyton Hall. People who knew Joe knew that his love for kids was amazing. He was a remarkable father to Kim, and an even more wonderful grandfather to Peyton. They drove downtown to watch trains go by; they played video games, and were the best of buds. Grandpa always felt privileged to be chosen every year by Peyton for “Special Persons Day” at Peyton’s school. Peyton will be the first to tell you that Joe is not just his grandfather, but his very best friend in the world. In November of 2007, Joe welcomed the addition of step-granddaughter, Parker, when Kim married Pete Corpeny. Parker thought Joe was so funny when he would fuss at Sue or cuss at the dogs or cats, all of whom he loved dearly.
Joe had a love for music his entire life. His favorite was Elvis; whom he was privileged to see twice in his lifetime. He also visited Graceland several times with family. He passed on his love for music, and Elvis, to his daughter and grandson.
In the mid-nineties, Joe and Sue moved to Kansas City area to be close to Kim. When Peyton was born in 2001, they spent most of their days taking care of Peyton. Grandpa Joe was Peyton’s first babysitter, as he did not like the idea of his grandson going to daycare. He was just as overprotective with Peyton as he was with Kim.
He also enjoyed bowling. Joe and Sue bowled together with their parents and siblings in their younger years. Later on Joe bowled every year on a league with Kim, and then later joined a league with Kim and Pete in Lee’s Summit. He was a good bowler, with his highest score being a 289. Even though he missed the last few weeks of his bowling due to his illness, he still was able to receive the league award for his high handicap series.
Joe was first and foremost a family man. He was the best husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle that anyone could ask for. He had a wonderful and silly sense of humor, and enjoyed making people laugh. He always thought of others first. He had a kind and gentle heart. Even on the day of his death, his concern was not for himself, but for his family as he told Kim and Sue to be sure to take good care of each other.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Mary, Sister Mary Beth Zupancic, Brother Michael Zupancic. Brothers-in-law Kenneth Simpson, Billy Joe Simpson, Charles Simpson, sisters-in-law Shirley Ann Simpson and Georgia Bea Frisbie.
Survived by his loving wife, Virginia Sue Simpson, of 44 years, his daughter, Kimberly Jo Corpeny (Peter), grandson Peyton Joseph Hall, step-granddaughter Parker Corpeny, and ex-son-in-law Terry Hall, all of Lee’s Summit, MO. Sister Mary Agnes Wald of Las Vegas, NV. Brothers Thomas Zupancic (Pat) of Las Vegas, NV, Ray Zupancic (Carol) of Pueblo, CO, and Richard Zupancic (Mary) of Flower Mound, TX. Sister-in-laws Wanda Simpson of Las Vegas, NV, Patricia Simpson of Colorado Springs, CO, Mary Simpson of Pueblo, CO and brother-in-law Joe Frisbie of Lake Ozark, MO. Also loved and remembered by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.