John Joseph, 97

September 1, 1923 - September 01, 2020

John Joseph passed away on September first, his 97th birthday. He was born in Iraq, and was convinced as a young man that he wouldn’t make it beyond the age of 45, as so many people he knew in that time and place were taken by tuberculosis.

As a boy, he crossed the Tigris River every day to attend the American School for Boys, founded in Baghdad by a couple from Pennsylvania. In 1946, following in the footsteps of his headmaster, he landed at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

John started as a chemistry major, but since he was so often asked questions about his homeland and his Assyrian heritage that he couldn’t answer, he became interested in Middle Eastern history and eventually wrote three well-received books on the subject. After earning his doctorate at Princeton University, he taught in the F&M History Department for 27 years. One of John’s former students felt so grateful for his guidance and encouragement that he donated significant funds to have a building named after his favorite professor. The Joseph International Center is at 701 College Avenue and houses programs and activities with a global focus.

John’s wife Betty, children Paul, Larry, and Deena, along with their immediate and extended families, lovingly remember him as an easy-going gentle man with a great sense of humor and a positive attitude. They are grateful to Oak Leaf Manor North and to Grane Hospice for their recent care.

The celebration of life will be just for immediate family. In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation at, or the American Civil Liberties Union at, would be appreciated.

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Condolences to the Family

September 14, 2020

I remember John when I worked in the print department at OfficeMax.  You could tell that he was a scholarly person from the articles that I copied for him.  He always was patient and appreciative of the services provided.  He will be missed.
Jeanne Mitman

September 14, 2020

To Betty and the Family: Wishing you moments of peace and tender reflection… sending you my heartfelt sympathy. I will always remember God’s newest Angel as a very interesting conversaltionalist and a very respectful person. John was always a great client to serve over the years.   Terry McGuigan, Fulton Bank Retired

September 11, 2020

I am the daughter of Dr  Fred A. and Emma Snavely. I remember visits with your family before and after our wonderful year in Baghdad ,Iraq. My mother and father  spoke often of you both. Dr.John Joseph well known for his good humor,knowledge of the Middle East, kindness and going the  extra  mile to help everyone.     F& M College, colleagues, and students were all richer for knowing him. 
My condolences to the entire family,
  Susan N Evans

September 10, 2020

To Betty and the Family, We are very saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Joseph. He was a very important person in our lives. One of our greatest memories is of being with him and all of you at the dedication of the Joseph International Center. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Andy and Ellen Schindler

September 09, 2020

Dear Betty, I’m so sorry for your loss–a big one. John was a very special person.  Maria Cattell
PS In case you don’t recognize my name, we were in the babysitting exchange at F&M years ago.

September 09, 2020

To Dr. Joseph . . . my favorite professor and my mentor at F&M, a wonderful human being, a kind and generous man!
Jay Miller

September 08, 2020

We mourn the passing of our long-time valued friend John Joseph. Our enduring friendship goes back to 1963 when we arrived in Lancaster. The Josephs were among the first people we met, and before long we lived on the same block with them. Our children grew up together. Robert was also a colleague of John’s at Franklin & Marshall College and appreciated him in his professional role as well. We remember the excellent speech he gave when a building named for him was dedicated. But above all, John was blessed with a wonderful temperament. Although he suffered a number of serious physical afflictions before his life ended, he was unfailingly cheerful. We will remember him always, and we send our thoughts to his family in this sad time. Robert and Louise Barnett

September 07, 2020

John Joseph was my mentor at F&M. Because of him, I went into the Air Force as a Middle Eastern Area Specialist, so he helped me launch my career. Our families were close, and my father adored John. I will always remember him as a humble scholar, a devout family man, and substantive guiding light. May God rest his soul.
Bruce Brody

September 07, 2020

I visited his class in 1965 as a high school senior, and was so enthralled that I applied to F & M. Thank you for your inspiration. Bill Boyd ’70.

September 06, 2020

I was greatly saddened to learn of John”s passing away.  He was an important part of my earlier life. As a child he always called me Daoud, and then later, as a high school student, I learned much about the Middle East when his course at F&M. I always felt much warmth and kindness emanating from him. I was gratified at a reunion to be able to see him, as well as Betty, and my childhood best friend Paul, about ten years ago.
David Wank

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