Joseph Louis Ahearn Sr.
Joseph Louis Ahearn Sr., age 78 years of Aston Township and Plains PA, died at home on Sunday, September 10, 2017, surrounded by his family.
Born in Chester, PA on October 6, 1938, he was the son of the late Thomas J. Ahearn and Mary Scheivert Ahearn. He is pre-deceased by his brother Thomas Ahearn Jr. and his late wife, Alice Quinn Ahearn.
Together with his brother Tom, his early life was spent helping his parents run their well-loved local grocery store, Ahearn’s Market in the Rockdale section of Aston, PA at a time when the family market was one of the social pillars of this close-knit community. There he learned his life-long and unfloundering dedication to hard work, not to mention the skill of butchering and an expert knowledge in cuts of meat which he loved to share over dinner with his family.
From a young age, Joe showed a natural aptitude for business. When he was still in high school, he started selling Christmas Trees in front of his parents’ store. This was a perfect fit for this big, brawny young man. After graduating from St. James High School, Chester, his early business ventures included his own grocery store in Ridley Park, PA and a gas station on Pennell Road, Aston, PA. He also built and sold many homes. He went on to successfully expand the Christmas Tree business attached to his parents’ store in Rockdale by establishing multiple seasonal flower & Christmas Tree stands located throughout Delaware and Columbia Counties, a business which lives on in his children and grandchildren today.
With the successful growth of his Christmas Tree business, Joe exhibited his innate and unrivalled business sense by then establishing his own wholesale tree farms in Berwick, PA. Joseph L. Ahearn, Christmas Tree Grower and Shipper soon had farms throughout PA, and at times also in NY, NC and Canada. He subsequently became Past President of the PA Christmas Tree Growers Association and member of the National Christmas Tree Growers Association. He loved being on top of a mountain trimming and tagging thousands of fir trees for the Christmas market. Indeed, he was a mountain of a man. His strength and sheer grit put many a young tree guy to shame.
Besides his tree farms, he also operated a flower stand in Bloomsburg, PA where his many regular customers appreciated his down-home service and affordable flowers.
Throughout his life, he was also a successful and respected real estate developer and investor. His countless stories of a life-time’s worth of real estate negotiations, told with his characteristic dry humor and enviable ability to recall each moment down to the last detail, illustrate a man who had the wit and mental agility to cut through potential deal-breakers, bringing the deal to a successful conclusion with old-fashioned fairness, respect and trust.
His renown in the farming community in Columbia County and the surrounding area eventually led to his position as President of the Board of Directors of Buffalo Valley Produce Auction. Alongside his dear friend, Neil Courtney, Joe was instrumental in the successful growth of the BPVA which today attracts buyers from far and wide.
He always said he would never retire and he kept his word. Business intrigued him. It was how he passed his time and it was his pastime.
In the midst of commerce, he never forgot to exchange a kind word or share a joke. In a world that is always in a rush, Joe Ahearn always gave you time. His generosity was unlimited and required no recognition. Every Christmas, he donated the trees that adorned the altar of his church, St. Francis de Sales, Lenni PA.
When he was not working, he loved to travel with his wife, Rita. Together they enjoyed many wonderful vacations including trips to Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Florida and Ireland. They shared a life filled with mutual respect, good humor and a love that was true and evident for all to see.
He will forever be remembered for his kindness, generosity and unconditional care for his family. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Rita Balestrini Ahearn, his son Joseph Ahearn Jr., his daughter-in-law, Susan, his granddaughters Samantha and Anna Rose, his children Joseph Van Wyk, Kathy Celestino, Daniel Van Wyk , Mary Alice Brennan, Brian Van Wyk, Patrick Van Wyk (deceased), his grandchildren and great grandchildren, his sister-in-law Barbara Ahearn, his cousins and many friends. Rest in Peace, Big Guy.
Visitation Saturday, Sep 16th, from 10-11:45am at Minshall Shropshire-Bleyler Funeral Home, Middletown & Knowlton Rds., Media PA 19063. Followed by Funeral Mass at 12.30pm at St. Francis De Sales Church, 35 New Rd., Aston, PA 19014.
Interment: St. Francis De Sales Cemetery.