Joseph Fred Yovich

Joseph (Joe) Fred Yovich (also nicknamed Geego), died peacefully at home on April 19th after a courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife and children.  He was 85 years old. Joe was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming to Matt and Anna (Kralj) Yovich who both immigrated from what became Yugoslavia. He was the youngest of nine children.  After his father’s passing when he was twelve, Joe quit school sports and after-school activities to work at Ben’s Foodliner and support his family. After high school, he fulfilled his dream of attending the University of Notre Dame and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He was active in the Army ROTC, and, upon matriculation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army.  He served in Europe as a Lieutenant in a combat engineering division during the depth of the Cold War.  He was honorably discharged as a Captain in the Army Corps of Engineers.  He later attained a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming.

Joseph married his wife of 58 years, Sharon Waters Yovich, on August 22nd, 1964.  The couple are the proud parents of six children and nine grandchildren.  Joe felt strongly about the importance of family, and large family gatherings were a frequent occurrence. A favorite tradition came from the “old country” – the hosting of a pig roast. Over the years, hundreds of people have enjoyed sharing this annual event with the Yoviches.

Joe and his family were also involved in Wyoming swimming for many years, and he served as a passionate and active swim parent, coach, and official.   

A Professional Engineer and Professional Land Surveyor, Joe spent 37 years with the Wyoming Highway Department designing, building, maintaining, and managing state highways.  Professional positions included resident engineer, district engineer, and leader of the University of Wyoming Design Squad. 

The 28 years of his retirement were the greatest years of his life. He traveled several times to visit relatives in Croatia, spent time traveling with friends and family, and enjoyed golfing all over the country. During the winter months, he was known as Alpine Joe on the ski slopes, and in the summer, he was branded “Fairway Fred” on the golf course. He loved his family and delighted in visiting his children and spending time with his grandchildren, and a couple of adopted grandchildren. “Grandpa” was famous for his chocolate chip pancakes, malts, and the occasional tea party. 

The last few years of Joe’s life were spent battling cancer and the effects of the cancer treatments. He maintained an unfailingly positive attitude.  Even at his sickest, he reported that he was “feeling good.”  During this time, Joe and Sharon continued to attend the activities and important events in their children and grandchildren’s lives. He was a strong man who relished the family Easter celebrations just days before his death.

Joe is survived by his loving wife, Sharon; his children Matt (Amy) Yovich, Margaret (Tom) Hudson, Joe Jr, Jayne (Marty) Hellenberg, Ron (Shelly) Yovich, and Rob Yovich; his grandchildren Elizabeth, Michael, Anna, Courtney, Josh, Nicholas, Alexandra, Alaina and Cameron; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces/nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings John, Rose, Margaret, and Kurt Yovich and Marie Shoopman, Anne Robertson, and Olga Magagna.

Joe leaves a lasting legacy, and his memory will forever be cherished by his family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched.  His life will be celebrated with a vigil service at 6 pm Friday, April 28 and a Funeral Mass at 11am on April 29 at St. Paul’s Newman Center in Laramie.  A private burial will take place at the Church of St. Mary Columbarium in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Meredith & Jeannie Ray Cancer Center or Laramie Hospice.

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Condolences (15)

  • Judy Kopischka

    So sorry to hear of Joe’s death. Prayers go out to all the Yovich family especially Sharon for I know how difficult it is to loose a husband. Your family will support one another during this time.

  • Jim & Ro Peak

    Sharon, Margaret, Jayne, and family. We were very saddened to learn of Joe’s passing. It is hard to imagine the emptiness when your spouse/father passes away; he will always be with you in spirit. Please know that love and thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Find peace in knowing that others share in your loss.

  • Rob Bress

    Dear Mrs. Yovich and family, My sincere condolences on Mr. Yovich's passing. I can never remember seeing him when he wasn't smiling. He had a way of making anyone he met feel very special and his love for all of you was apparent in every conversation. I hope that sharing memories of him will help you all through this difficult time. The world is better for his having been in it.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Coach Matt and family: What an extraordinary man your dad was, Matt. You look like him, and you've clearly followed in his footsteps in so many ways. I am so sorry for his suffering in his final years, despite his bravery, and am heartened to read that he enjoyed life and family to the fullest. I wish I had met him...I am grateful that you carry on his spirit. Blessings, Lori Rosolowsky

  • Mike

    Not only was Joe the engineer I wanted to grow up to be, he was the MAN I wanted to grow up to be. His departure from WYDOT left a huge void. His departure from the world leaves an even bigger wake. Pat, Annie, et al-condolences.

  • Beverley Higgs

    Sharon and family, my heartfelt condolences in the passing of Joe. He was one of the best bosses I ever had. Beverley Higgs, WYDOT Riverton, retiree.

  • Laura Dalles

    So sorry for your loss. What a great life he created for all of you.

  • Anonymous

    Joe was a great supporter of engineers in Wyoming, and even extended his loving guidance to the occasional geologist - like me. Thank you to the Yovich family for sharing Joe with the community. He enriched us all and will be missed!

  • Sophia Beck

    Angels prayers and hugs.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Yovich family, We will miss Joe so much, even though we haven’t seen him frequently in recent years! His love and hospitality toward our family will always be cherished! We came to know him as a happy and supportive parent at the swimming pool! We were so fortunate to have continued a friendship with him and your family! He was an amazing man, and we can only pray that you find comfort in the mini memories he left behind. Mary Beth Stepans

  • Rob Bress

    My sincere condolences to Mrs. Yovich and the entire family at Mr. Yovich’s passing. His kindness and love were apparent from the first time I met him as a child. I’m hoping you all find comfort in shared memories of shared experiences.

  • Alice & Scott Miller

    Such a great guy and a good friend! Only person we knew who faced the world with a smile on his face no matter the situation. An amazing man who accomplished so much in his lifetime. Loved his stories that made us all belly laugh. So many fun memories! Our hearts and prayers go out to the Yovich family. Just know you're not alone when it comes to missing Poppa Joe. We're right there with you. Scotty & Alice

  • Shelly Aragon

    Dear Yovich Family May you find peace and comfort during this time. We have another angel in heaven. Godspeed Joe Much love and wonderful memories Shelly Miller Aragon

  • Anonymous

    The staff at Sunridge Apartments want to send our deepest condolences to the Yovich family. What a loving tribute from a wonderful family. -Erica, Dale & Colton

    • George Mathes

      Edward Sharon and the Yovich, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. I have so many found memories of Joe. He taught me so much about the real important things in life. I will always remember his smile and encouragement. He was one of the best.


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