Cover photo for Joseph Francis Fiala's Obituary
Joseph Francis Fiala Profile Photo
1950 Joseph 2023

Joseph Francis Fiala

September 24, 1950 — October 12, 2023

Joseph Francis Fiala, 73, of Athens, Ohio, passed away unexpectedly of natural causes. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Julianna Kozlinski Fiala, his sister Eugenia "Jean" Fiala and his niece Jeanine Schweinberg. Joe is survived by a daughter Michele, son Joseph, daughter-in-law Emaline, and three grandchildren: Olivia (8), Scott (5) and Asa (2). He is also survived by two nephews, Richard and Ronald Schweinberg, and extended family. His former wife Stephanie Cramer became a lifelong friend and her family always counted him in their number.

Joe was born in Conneaut, Ohio and moved to Lorain, Ohio at the age of two. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Dayton and his master's degree and PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Kentucky. He moved to Frankfort, KY, where he worked for the Legislative Research Commission for twenty-two years, including his position as Director of Program Review and Investigation. He later taught Management and Information Science at Kentucky State University.

Joe was a problem solver who loved fixing things. He spent his life renovating houses, building and refinishing furniture and working on cars and motorcycles. After retirement, he took up scuba diving, meditation, ballroom dancing, and Zumba. Joe loved going on diving trips and meditation retreats. He traveled the world from Fiji to Europe to Antarctica and lived for a time in Portland, Oregon. He traveled to various Shambhala Centers to teach, and he led meditation and mindfulness classes at The Light Clinic in Frankfort. He served people in many capacities including as the Director of the Lexington Shambhala Center. He was a co-founder and part-owner of Bourbon on Main in Frankfort and he sported BOM t-shirts in every color wherever he traveled. In his later life, he became an investor with his children in bourbon barrels and properties. He had just finished single-handedly remodeling a country house into a beautiful short-term rental shortly before his death. 

When his grandkids were born, Joe became "Poppy" and reorganized his life to maximize his time with them. There has never been a more devoted grandfather. During the pandemic, he turned his home into "Poppy's Daycare." The family began taking trips together, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii in the past year. Poppy Joe will be remembered for his great sense of humor and quick wit, his loving kindness, tickling laughter and caring attitude. He led an incredible life and his presence was a gift to those around him. His beautiful selflessness brought him so much joy, as did his love of family. He was proud of his family and he always let us know it. We are so proud of him as well. 

The family extends gratitude to everyone who has offered meditations, contemplations and prayers and to Hughes-Moquin Funeral Home, all of whom are supporting Joe in his transition. 

There will be a public ceremony at Lexington Shambhala Center (305 Maxwell St., Lexington, KY) on Saturday, October 21st at 3pm. Friends in Athens, Ohio will gather upstairs at Eclipse Company Store (11309 Jackson Dr., The Plains) on Wednesday at 5:30pm for an informal gathering in honor of his life. Donations in Joe's memory can be made to Lexington Shambhala Center or Shambhala International. 

Those who can't attend in person are invited to focus loving intentions on "Poppy" Joe during his transition. The simplest way to practice this is to envision giving Poppy a warm gentle loving hug energetically. Fill the airwaves with love and celebration. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph Francis Fiala, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Gathering of Friends

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Starts at 5:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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