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Joel Horowitz


Joel Harold Horowitz, age 79 of Wayne, New Jersey died on Monday October 2, 2017.

Joel was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from East Side High School. He continued his education and earned a Ph.D. from University of Georgia in 1975. He taught sociology at Columbus University Columbus, Georgia for 25 years when he retired. He became the department chair for many years and his exemplary teaching style earned him the teacher of the year award on more than one occasion. Joel was well known in town for establishing “Wednesday Night Live” where he facilitated lively discussions at a local restaurant with students and staff.

For all who knew Joel he had a knack for stimulating serious discussions which had people think and explore their beliefs and attitudes more thoroughly. As a result of his unique style a dear friend made up business cards and a hat for Joel with a tag line “answers questioned.”

Joel will be missed by many dear friends and relatives. He is survived by his sister Marcia Laky, her husband, Stephen Laky his nieces Diana Leu and her husband James Leu, Sandra Galdieri and her husband John Galdieri, two grand nephews, Tyler Leu and Xavier Galdieri and two grand nieces, Keira Leu and Cassidy Galdieri. 

Guest Book


I worked with Joel as the other sociologist in the department for several years prior to his retirement. Joel knew how to push people's buttons--to make them think. Joel's favorite analogy was his "gremlin" story, which challenged student's beliefs about God. Here in the "Bible belt," it was a daring lecture. In terms of how students who took Joel for a class, there were only the two extremes with no shades of gray in between--students either loved him, those that liked the way he got them to think outside of the box, and those that didn't like him, which were students who didn't want their beliefs challenged. The one you could always count on was for Joel to speak his mind--he never held back--some considered him too blunt while others appreciated his honesty. Joel was such a great thinker and therefore it is doubly sad to know that he suffered from Alzheimer's in his last years. I think John Donne the poet said it the best when he wrote, "The death of any man diminishes me." The academic community is diminished by his death as am I. Rest in peace, Joel. Maybe someday we'll meet up somewhere and you can recount your gremlin story to me again.

Richard Newtson


I was a close friend of Joel.I agree with what Richard Newtson wrote.Joel gave students the opportunity to think differently, and for many it was liberating. He lived his life with a fierce independence and determination to live his way. His mind was always open to learn and to evaluate evidence. Joel was fortunate to have the loving care of his sister, Marcia, and his brother-in-law, Steve, when he was no longer able to take care of himself. I miss him greatly. Mark Berger

Mark L. Berger


Joel and I met in 1968, at Indiana University in Ft. Wayne, where I’d signed up for an Intro to Sociology course and chose the section that was to be taught by a Japanese-named instructor. The guy who entered the auditorium of 90 students was wearing a black suit, white shirt, narrow black tie, and shined black shoes, and was definitely NOT Mr. Shimamura! He also could not have appeared to be more “buttoned up” and conservative, and that was the first of his many conscious attempts at confounding expectations that I witnessed, over the years. From the moment Joel opened his mouth in that classroom, I KNEW that I had lucked into a unique opportunity to be taught and challenged by a brilliant thinker. Being able to share our lives for a dozen years provided innumerable riches. Thanks to the loving (and often difficult and exhausting) care by his sister, Marcia, and her husband, Steve, some of Joel’s personality and sense of humor were temporarily restored, long after it seemed that they were irrevocably lost. I had the great fortune of being able to reminisce and joke and laugh with Joel in Marcia and Steve’s home last year. Those of us who loved Joel know that we have lost that rare Great Person whom so few people have in their lives. Which reminds me of the time...

Hal Myers


Joel was my teacher at Columbus in the late 70's. I didn't intend to major in Sociology, but after completing his Intro class, I wanted to take anything he taught, and attended many Wednesday evening sessions. For this shy girl, he was a little scary - so direct, brilliant, confident, and challenging - but part of me thrived on it, and his influence on my life was considerable. Thank you, Marcia and Steve, for caring for our remarkable teacher and friend.

Allison Carter


On one of my life's lucky days I arrived at Ohio Wesleyan University and learned that my roommate would be a boy from Patterson named Joel. Apparantly, Joel was prepared for anything and he brought with him several suit cases and trunks including one marked "First Aid." We chose beds and unpacked, and by the time we had finished I knew that we would be friends. But I didn't know that it would be friends for life. After Joel became ill and his sister moved him to New Jersey so that she could take of him, I continued to call him, but our conversations became shorter and shorter--and about less and less. Mostly about whether he had eaten lunch or not. Rarely more than that... I missed the man who always "told it like it was," and who "pulled no punches," and yet who had a wry sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh...Joel was an important factor in my life and I know that he was an key part of the molding process that made the boy, Mike, into the man I became...One anecdote: In his early life, Joel was a swimming coach, and in my later life I began to swim laps, about a half-mile, three or four times a week. Some time about a year ago, I began to become short of breath while doing my laps, and in one of my phone calls, I mentioned it to Joel. Suddenly he came out of his Alzheimer's and instructed me to breath in more deeply, and to make sure that I fully expelled the air in my lungs before I took the next deep breath. The next day I followed Joel's direction and it worked. There was no breathlessness! I rushed home so that I could report my success to my new "Coach." Sadly, when I reached him he had no memory of our conversation the day before. Joel was lucky to have Marsha, "The Kash," for a sister. She took devoted care of him in his last difficult years. He loved her deeply, and always wore a huge smile when he spoke of her.

Michael E Katz


Four days before Joel passed I was dining out in (of all places) Rabat Morocco with three fellow attendees of an International Organizers’ Forum. The topic came up in conversation: How were you politicized? My story was pretty simple and one I’ve told many a time over the past 43 years: in September 1974, as a first quarter freshman at University of Georgia, I happened to take Introductory Sociology with Professor Joel Horowitz. I told my new friends that prior to this class “I don’t think I had a political bone in my body,” but what Joel did in this class was he took almost every cherished institution in American society—the family, religion, democracy, and capitalism---and in a very thorough, rational, funny, and devastating way turned these institutions on their head. As a student in Joel’s class (if you paid attention) you were required to re-examine many core beliefs, norms and conventional wisdom about how society worked and especially who benefitted from the status quo. To this day Joel’s introductory sociology course was the most intellectually liberating experience of my life. After taking his class, I changed my major to sociology and never looked back. After having Joel as a professor we stayed in touch, became friends, and realized we had many mutual tastes in music. Over the years I was lucky to enjoy numerous concerts, music parties, along with Joel’s intellect, humor and warm hospitality. For the past 40+ years Joel was one of my best friends, and I miss him greatly. Many thanks to Marcia and Steve for making the last few years of Joel’s life as comfortable as possible for him. Just this past June I was lucky to have one final meal with Joel, Marcia, and Steve at Joel’s favorite diner in Wayne, N.J.—everyone ordered Joel’s favorite brunch item---Eggs Benedict! Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

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