Joseph J. Piala Research pharmacolgist and WWII veteran Joseph J. Piala passed away on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
Visitation will be held at the Costello-Runyon Funeral Home in Metuchen, N.J., on Sept. 4 from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, with a Funeral Mass at 10:15 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Francis on Sept. 5. Interment will take place at Resurrection Burial Park in Piscataway.
Joe was born on Nov. 1, 1921, in the Milwaukee suburb of Carrollville, Wis. Trained as a pilot and navigator, he served in World War II from 1943 to 1946 in a unit that conducted low-altitude nighttime bombing and reconnaissance missions in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre. Upon leaving active duty, he joined the Reserve Officers Corps, retiring from the AF Reserve as a Lt. Colonel, in 1981. Joe was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology from UMD in Baltimore. He married Madelon Maxwell in 1952 and moved to Metuchen to work at Squibb & Sons. Focusing on analgesics and anti-inflammatories, he was an author of multiple patents in his field. His career culminated as head of research pharmacology at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Joe was a disciplined perfectionist with a quick sense of humor, which stayed with him through his final weeks. In addition to his analytical and scientific approach, he was a true Renaissance man, enrolling in evening arts classes that included sculpture, oil painting, and calligraphy. He was a Boy Scout leader, and for better or worse, he made every effort to handle home repairs on his own. At 89, he was still blowing leaves out of the gutters of his house. He was known for creating potent holiday eggnog and enjoyed helping his neighbors. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Pharmaceutical Association, a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Francis, an avid gardener and landscaper, and lifetime member of the Wisconsin Slovak Historical Society.
He was predeceased by a son, Thomas Maxwell Piala (1969); wife, Madelon (2016), sister Emily Mezerski, and brother, G. Edward Piala. His brother-in-law, Lewis F. "Sam" Maxwell died the following day.
Surviving are his daughter, Vanessa Piala (James Belikove) of Chevy Chase, Md.; son, Jack Piala (Patricia) of Killingworth, Conn.; grandchildren, Alex and Kevin Piala, and Thomas and Natasha Belikove; 17 nieces and nephews; brother-in-law, Julius Nimorwicz, and very few of the dear friends from "the Beacon Hill Gang."