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Joseph Rybaltowski, age 89, of Wilmington, Delaware passed away peacefully in his home on December 28th, 2023 joining Geri, his wife of 67 years, who passed only five months before him. Joe was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who was known for his kind heart, integrity and devotion to his family and friends. He took great pride in his work in the community and in his Polish heritage. There was never a kinder or gentler man.
Joe was born on February 19th, 1934 in Wilmington, Delaware to Boleslaw and Mary (Kwiatkowski). He grew up on Elm Street and graduated Salesianum School in 1952. A few years later on October 20, 1956, he married the love of his life, Geraldine Scholato, and together they raised five children in a busy and happy home.
Joe built a career at Gates Engineering as a Quality Control Manager where he worked until his retirement, however the work he did in the community was his true passion. Joe and Geri were lifelong parishioners of St. Hedwig’s where Joe devoted significant time and energy to the parish. He served on the parish council for 8 years and was an usher & eucharistic minister for many more.
Joe was passionate about helping the youth in his community & the positive impact that athletics had on young people. He used his lunch hour at work to start the gym program at St. Hedwig’s Elementary School. The children looked forward to seeing “Mr. Joe” each day & to participate in a healthy outlet in the midst of their school day. He coached many sports and eventually served as President of St. Hedwig’s CYO and The Central CYO.
Joe was very proud of his Polish heritage. He was instrumental in the expansion of the Polish Falcons organization in Wilmington (Nest 20) where he served as Director and Treasurer for 45 years. He passed many Polish traditions down to his children and grandchildren, including Christmas Eve Vigilia, celebrated for over 5 generations in the Rybaltowski family.
Joe loved a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and conversation around the kitchen table with family and friends who stopped in often. His favorite visitors were always his grandchildren whom he loved to laugh with while Geri retold her stories about the two of them growing up on Elm Street together. His grandchildren will forever remember their Pop Pop as being their role model & inspiration for continuing his legacy of kindness, humility & utmost integrity.
Joe was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Geri; his sister, Mary Brown; his brother, Stan; and granddaughter, Leah Zakrzewski. He is survived by his five children, Joe Jr (Elaine), Lenny (Marianne), Mark (Erin), Mary Kay Taylor (Jeff), and Lori Zakrzewski; eleven grandchildren, Joey, Brian, Mark, Alyssa, Justine, Alex, Bobby, Alaina, Meaghan, Brendan, McKenna; three great-grandchildren, Katelyn, Liam & McKayla; his brother William, and many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to visit on Thursday, January 4th, 2024 from 9:30AM-10:45AM at St. Hedwig Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11AM. Entombment will follow in All Saints Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to St. Hedwig’s Parish, 408 S. Harrison St, Wilmington, DE 19805.