Community Spotlight: Joseph Magnus - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the December 1999 Juniper Berry Magazine

Community Spotlight: Joseph Magnus

FAMILY BACKGROUND

Joseph Magnus was born in eastern Czechoslovakia, in a small village called Roztoky. His parents, now deceased, were Anna and Michael Magnus. He has one older brother, Michael, who lives in Bayridge, Brooklyn. Sixteen weeks after Joseph was born, his father immigrated to the U.S., with the hope of earning enough money to support his wife and two sons. However the war broke out in 1939, and for the next six years, Joseph and his mother suffered the ravages of war and experienced the plunder of German occupation, until the country was liberated by the Russians in 1945. Hunger, sleepless nights in the woods, air raids, booming cannons, shootings, and death were their constant companions, not only for him and his mother, but for the entire village. Potatoes and milk were staples of their diet for many months, as they lived in fear and uncertainty. Civilians were in the way and hence were herded into box cars to be transported to "God knows where." Fortunately for Joseph and his companions, they were able to escape in the night, when local people attacked the guards and broke down the doors of the box cars. After the war, the villagers were able to return to their homes, but now had to live under a strict communist regime. Life was rather uneventful, with school and war games occupying most of his time, until 1951 when Joseph became eligible for draft into the army. Joseph refused to enlist, because he was an American citizen, and was ordered to leave the country within twelve months. Hence within one year, he packed his bags, abandoned his home and homeland, and headed for the U.S., accompanied by his mother.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

When Joseph arrived in Brooklyn in 1952, he could not speak a word of English. Yet, within two days, he found himself a job with the Levitown Manufacturing Company in Greenpoint. He immediately set about learning to speak English and borrowed the book, "English Through Pictures," from the Public Library. He also enrolled in evening classes, designed as "English for Foreign Born," in the local high school. Exactly one year after his arrival in the U.S., Joseph was drafted into the U.S. Army, and served his country with pride and distinction. Following military service, Joseph returned to New York and secured a job with the Governor Clinton Hotel in Manhattan. In down times as an elevator operator, he was an avid reader of the NY Times. He read an ad in the Times for computer classes. He still recalls the ad: " Opportunity of a Lifetime: Learn ComputersóThe Future is in the Computer." With financial assistance from his favorite uncle, Michael D. Kunka, Joseph enrolled in the evening computer courses. Later on, he also completed courses in computer technology and management information systems at NYU. To this day he prides himself in being a computer whiz. For the remainder of his career, until his retirement in 1986, Joseph worked as a computer specialist in companies such as: Channing Investment Corporation, Bankers Trust, Roosevelt Hospital, Strategic Systems, Hunter College, and for twenty years with the Human Resources Administration of the City

of New York.

COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS

In 1972, Joseph and his wife Margaret moved to Middle Village, where they live with their daughter Tanya and their dog Misty. Joe maintains his membership in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on North 12th Street in Greenpoint. Magnus, which in Latin means "great," is often referred to as "Mr. Ambulance," in our local community. In 1973, when the Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps was being formed, he signed up to become a volunteer. He became a Certified New York State Emergency Medical Technician the following year. At the present time, as the operating officer of the Corps, he is the only Charter member of the organization to continuously maintain active service for 27 years. While "pulling" one or two tours of duty every week, he also has served, over time, as Vice President, Treasurer, Membership Chairman, Quality Assurance Officer, and as a member of the Advisory Board. Also, he is usually the point man at community events where emergency care may be needed. While he is very proud of MVVAC's recently acquired new ambulance, one of his fondest dreams is to secure funding for a new headquarters to replace the current crumbling building on Metropolitan Avenue.

Joe is a member of American Legion Post #347 in Clifton, New Jersey, which he joined with his beloved uncle, Mike Kunka.

Joseph is also a staunch member of the Republican Party, and as a member of the National Republican Leadership Committee, visited the White House on several occasions, while George Bush was President. In his home, he proudly displays pictures with George Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and his favorite Republican State Senator, Serphin Maltese.