Although Josef Wimmer earned a living and supported his family as a tool-and-die maker, his real passion was the outdoors, said his daughter Gerti Zaccone.
“His real life began at home. That’s where you could tell that at heart, he was just a farm boy from Yugoslavia,” Zaccone said.
Josef Wimmer, 85, of Hobart, died Jan. 3. He worked for Budd Co. for 30 years and Western Steel for several years. He was a member of St. Joseph the Worker Parish.
He is survived by his wife of more than 56 years, Gertrude Wimmer.
Wimmer was born in Mitrovica, in the former Yugoslavia, and emigrated to the United States with his family.
He loved being outside, and spent hours in his backyard orchard. He grew everything from apples, pears and plumbs to currants and Concord grapes.
“He spent many hours fighting battles against the greedy birds and squirrels who tried to steal the harvest,” Zaccone said.
Wimmer and his wife had a large vegetable garden, in which they grew tomatoes, peppers, squash and pumpkins. He also was a beekeeper and a member of the Northwest Indiana Beekeepers Association.
“(He wanted) to keep those trees and plants producing all they could,” she said.
He loved Sausage Day, a decades-old tradition when he and several friends would make hundreds of pounds of sausage on the day after Thanksgiving.
“Sausage Day at the Wimmer house was bigger than the Super Bowl,” she said.
The day would begin about 5 a.m. and last well into the night, as the group of men would hand-grind pork butts using turn-of-the-century sausage stuffers and grinders.
“The day would end with the completed sausages, sorted and divided between the number of participants, lying on the thick layer of plastic which covered a ping-pong table,” she said. “The Sausage Day was a huge part of Joe’s life from when he emigrated here in the ’60s until the ’90s. It’s hard for his friends and family to imagine a year without a Sausage Day.”