Joseph James Jankowski, a 40-year Big Bear resident affectionately known as Dr. Joe to close friends and family, passed away on May 3, 2017 at the age of 69. Born in Buffalo, New York, on March 20, 1948, he moved to Los Angeles in 1954, where he attended Saint Michael’s for grammar school and graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1966. He completed his undergraduate education at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, California, in 1970 and earned his Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) from Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, in 1974.
As a newlywed, he and his wife, Georgette, moved to Big Bear, where he opened an optometric practice and served the Big Bear community’s eye care needs for 18 years. He later joined Kaiser Permanente’s optometry team, working for 20 years at the West Los Angeles site and seven years at the Long Beach site. In addition to his long optometry career, he was active with the Big Bear Volunteer Fire Department and was a deputy sheriff with the San Bernardino County Aero Squadron Search and Rescue team for 40 years.
Dr. Joe was an avid traveler who had been around the world, and visited five continents and more than 100 countries. While piloting his prized Cherokee Six, he explored every state in the contiguous United States. As a lifelong philanthropist, Dr. Joe donated his medical expertise to Navajo and South American communities, and rebuilt homes devastated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
He is survived by his wife, Georgette; son, Joseph; two brothers, Art and George; sister, Rose Marie; two grandchildren, Ella and Joey; and many nieces and nephews. He was much loved and will be greatly missed by all that knew him. A memorial gathering is planned for a future date.