Joseph H Labrum was born June 14, 1942 in Salt Lake City to parents Orren Pearse Labrum and Wanda Hemmingway. He was the youngest of three children; He had an older brother Orren and an older sister Patricia. Patricia passed away in 1999 and Orren in 2015.
Joseph lived in the Salt Lake Valley throughout his childhood, graduating from Granite High school in 1960. He later attended the University of Utah where he graduated with a degree in Computer Science.
Not long after graduating high school, he married Sharon Lorena Brown Johnson. They had two children together, Dale J. Labrum and Michelle Bennett. During this time Joseph worked for many years as an optical engineer for Sperry which later became part of Unisys, there he worked with computers, lenses and lasers and had a number of inventions that were later patented; in all he had at least 12 patents. One of his inventions he was most proud of was a special magnifier/lens system that dentists can use to examine and treat their patients.
Joseph and Sharon separated and later divorced in 1988.
The following year he met Marian Babirecki McMaster and found they had many similar interests, such as Latin American culture and travel, dance, and music. After a number of dates he asked her to accompany him to Mexico to help with some of his research there on Mayan Culture. During the trip there, he proposed to her while on top of one of the pyramids, the temple of Kukulcan. They were married in April of 1989.
After their wedding, Joseph left Unisys and founded Labrum Optical Engineering. Working mostly from home, he consulted with many companies, designing high powered lenses, magnifiers, reflectors, and lasers, much of his work was for use in the medical and dental industries.
Later he advanced his interests in photography, creating The Refined Image, which specialized in high quality family and wedding portraits, and landscape photography.
When he married Marian on April 27, 1989, Joseph’s family grew with the addition of Ian McMaster and Tricia Donaldson.
One of Joseph’s most cherished memories was spending time with his grandchildren. He and Marian loved spending time with and spoiling them, watching movies, reading books, and feeding them lots of good food. He has eleven grandchildren: Brittany Adams, Brandon Jeffery, Justin Jeffery, Mathew Jeffery, Misty Masse, Aiden McMaster, Lucas McMaster, Anna McMaster, Sahalie Donaldson, Tess Donaldson, and Eli Donaldson. He also had 5 great-great grandchildren: Hannah, Piper, Beckett, Kaden, and Harrison.
He had diverse hobbies, many of which he became expert at:
- Gardening: he wasn't one to just plant things and let them grow; he was often tinkering with the soil alkalinity adjusting it so that it was perfect for growing certain things, such as blueberries, which normally don't grow well in Utah. He also grew incredible blackberries, , which were huge and delicious.
- Pilot: for a number of years he had a pilot's license and flew small aircraft for fun around the Salt Lake and Utah valleys
- Fishing: he enjoyed taking fishing trips to his favorite spots, such as Navajo Lake, near Cedar City, and Moon Lake in the Uintas; He had his own small fishing boat from which he liked to troll, and as was typical for Joseph, he had a wide variety of gear and tackle to use.
- Archery: he made his own arrows and competed in state competitions,
- Other sports: he liked Scuba diving; skiing, and bowling
- Cook: was expert at smoking meat. His other specialty was mashed potatoes.
- Mayan culture: he studied and photographed extensively the Mayan culture; giving lectures and photo exhibitions. Some of his photos won awards.
- General tinkering and making things:
“I hope that by now you know I like the indoors, the outdoors, nature, and all of God's Creations." - As a young man he made his own ham radio. He also crafted telescopes.
- He was excellent at auto repairs.
He understood practically everything from a mechanical point of view and how to fix it. He seemed to have a tool for every task; and sometimes 5 or more varieties of the same tool.
One thing that was consistent in most if not all of his pursuits, whether in his work or hobbies, was the degree to which he became as expert as possible in it, trying, always, to find a better way; often thinking outside the box, so to speak.
In 2008 Marian passed away due to Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that gradually destroys the nerves connecting the brain with the body. In the years leading up to her death she became increasingly dependent on Joseph for care, which he did with great love and dedication, devoting much of his time toward her.
Just before he met Marian, Joseph wrote:
“I hope that by now you know I like the indoors, the outdoors, nature, and all of God's Creations. The earth is big, and our time here is short; that means that there is a lot to learn and appreciate, and not much time to do it, but all of this doesn't work very well unless there is someone special to share it with.”
After Marian’s passing, Joseph often expressed how much he missed her. May they finally be together now without the hindrances of mortality and with joy and peace.
He is survived by two children, two step children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
In consideration of COVID-19 a small graveside service was held for family on Saturday Nov 14th in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Please feel free to share your memories of Joseph.
I am sorry to learn that Joe has passed away. He was one of my favorite cousins when I was growing up. His Father Pearse and my father George were brothers. My dad idolized Uncle Pearse and it appears that Joe had many of the similar interests and talents as his father. Joe was always kind to us and we were happy to see him when we visited the Labrums in their home on 9th East. It is a good thing that his life was filled with happiness and love.