In Memory of




Obituary for Joseph Elmer Thiel


Devoted Father, Poppy & Massey Tractor Enthusiast

Joseph Thiel, 81, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, at his West Valley home on Monday, March 20, after a lengthy illness.

Joe was born to Floyd and Florence (Winkelman) Thiel on the family dairy farm and here began his fondness for Massey-Harris-Ferguson tractors.

Between 1964 and 1966, Joe served in the US Army in Germany as a truck driver and mechanic. He was very proud of his military service and would frequently stop fellow veterans, in public, and thank them for their service. Joe also marched in the annual West Valley Memorial Day parade with the American Legion for several years.

Joe married Marie Schunk on July 12, 1969 and they celebrated their golden anniversary in 2019. They were blessed with four children: Sherry, Donna, David and Karen.

Joe worked for several years at the Emerling Massey-Ferguson / Chevrolet dealership and also retired from the US Postal Service as a rural letter carrier. He also met his future wife, Marie, here, as they both worked at the Boston Post Office. He was always fond of his many mail “customers” and the many friendships that he forged through the years.

In retirement, Joe could always be found working with his large Massey Ferguson tractor collection, giving his grandchildren tractor rides, cutting firewood, hauling scrap metal and maintaining several local cemeteries. He was always there to help family, friends and neighbors with tractor / vehicle repairs, tree removal projects, providing transportation to doctor appointments and always putting others’ needs before his own.

Joe was an active member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in West Valley and maintained St. John’s cemetery for many years. He always maintained a strong faith in God and was truly an example for his children to follow.

Joe is survived by his wife, Marie, children; Sherry (Steven) Bligh, Donna (Donald) Finlayson, David (Jody) and Karen (Mark) Gerwitz, nine grandchildren, three great grandchildren, siblings; Bessie (late Fran) Enser, Rosella (late Donald) Schasel, Nelson (Debra), Mary Ann (Earl) Bartz, Eugenia (late Gordon) Olson, John (Laura), Fran (Cheryl), brother-in-law Charles Smith, sister-in-law Shirley Romesburg, several nieces, nephews and friends.

He was preceded in death by his brother; Anthony, sister; Kathleen Smith, niece; Shari Lee Romesburg and his parents.

There will be no visitation. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 10 am, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 5381 Depot St., West Valley, with interment to follow at St. John’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Cattaraugus County Homecare & Hospice 1225 W. State St., Olean, NY 14760.