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Ernest “Ernie” H. Josar, 85, of Bethlehem, a social worker who spent his
career ensuring society’s most vulnerable received the mental health
services and care they need, died Wednesday, November 23, 2022, after a
lengthy illness. He died at home surrounded by his family and listening to
He was the husband of Virginia M. (Macsek) Josar. They were married 58
years. Born in Bethlehem, he was the son of the late Stephen and Mary
(Pecsek) Josar. He was a graduate of Bethlehem High School, earned a
B.A. in History from Moravian College and a Master’s of Social Work from
the University of Pennsylvania. Ernest also earned additional credentials
through the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City.
He served two years in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. He would
entertain family members with slideshows of his travels and tales such as
how, while on patrol, a U.S. missile outfitted with a nuclear warhead toppled
but failed to explode.
Mr. Josar worked for 40 years as a clinical social worker and in executive
roles for Northampton County Children’s Aid Society, St. Luke’s
Hospital-Fountain Hill, Correlative Therapy Education Center, the Lehigh
Valley Guidance Clinic, Family and Counseling Services of the Lehigh
Valley, and retired from Apogee Services.
In 1984 he was named “Social Worker of the Year'' by the Lehigh Valley
Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He also worked as
an adjunct professor and field work supervisor for Moravian University,
Marywood University, and Cedar Crest College.
Ernest valued giving back to the community and demonstrated this as a
member of numerous boards in the Lehigh Valley. He was most proud of
his work with Allentown's Neighborhood Housing Services. As president, he
helped the organization secure financing for low-income home-owners.
In retirement Ernest, along with his wife, was a dedicated volunteer at the
Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, a mission founded by Wesley United
Methodist Church of which he was a member and greeter. Ernest also truly
enjoyed his work as a student mentor at Marvine Elementary School.
Ernie had fun camping and traveling with his kids packed into the back of
the family station wagon to visit historical sights of the mid-Atlantic states.
In retirement, Ernie and Virginia traveled to family and friends in Germany,
Greece, Australia, Slovenia, South Africa, and Chile.
Ernie was proud of his Slovenian-Windish heritage and Bethlehem roots.
He was a first generation American and grew up in the Windish community.
He and his wife knew each other their whole lives and met as members of
St. John’s Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1979 they purchased a
house from the Old Allentown Preservation Association and restored it into
a beautiful home and garden oasis for their family. The property was
featured numerous times on the OAPA House Tour.
A man of varied tastes and ravenous appetites, Ernest and his wife enjoyed
socializing as part of several dinner groups. He will be deeply missed by
their lively Gourmet Group, which explores exotic and themed menus; and
the Share Group which has been meeting regularly and supporting each
other through food and friendship since the mid 1970s. Even as his health
declined, Ernie’s appetite was legendary. During his last weeks, he asked
for Yocco’s hot dogs, MaryAnn Doughnuts, strawberry milkshakes, and
cheesesteaks. He requested and consumed several root beer floats during
his final days.
Ernest was a fan of pigs, spicy food, classical music, old movies, and Cape
May. Favorite pastimes included reading historical books, playing 500
Rummy with his family, and attending his grandchildren's athletic events.
He and Virginia were season ticket holders of the Allentown Symphony
Orchestra for decades and also went to the annual Moravian College
Christmas Vespers as often as possible.
In addition to his best friend and wife, Ernest is survived by a son, David
Josar and his wife Eve of Washington, DC; a daughter, Laura B. Zaharakis
and her husband Steve of Saucon Valley; and four beloved grandchildren,
Dino, Zoe, Leonidas and Colette; cousins, Charles Forkas and Thomas
Beer; and “Boots,” a large, fluffy cat.
Service: Funeral Service 11 am Monday, November 28, 2022 at St. John’s
Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church, 617 E. 4th St., Bethlehem, PA.
Family and friends may call at the church starting at 10 am. Arrangements
are being handled by the Cantelmi Long Funeral Home, Bethlehem. Please
record a memorial tribute at www.cantelmifuneralhome.com.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Moravian
University Scholarship Fund, Development Office, 1200 Main St.,
Bethlehem, PA 18018.