Joseph R. Hems died Sunday, October 10, 2021, at The Woodlands in Plainfield. He was 89.
Born in Bayonne to the late Robert and Willamina (Henderson) Hems, he was raised in Newark and lived in Piscataway before moving to North Brunswick in 1960. He was a salesman for Cities Service Oil Company for 19 years before leaving them in 1971. He then continued his career as owner/operator of retail service stations until his retirement.
Mr. Hems served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was wounded in the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter and received the Purple Heart. He and his late wife, Harriet, reorganized the Military Order of the Purple Heart in New Jersey. He received numerous awards for recruitment, growth and development within the organization and served as Chapter and State Commander of the group. He was elected National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart for 1991-1992 and served as a director of the National Foundation for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was also a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Korean War Veterans and the Polish Legion. He served as National Chairman for the Korean War Memorial Fund for the MOPH and was instrumental in the creation of the New Jersey Purple Heart license plate program for combat wounded veterans.
He was a communicant of Our Lady of Peace R.C. Church in North Brunswick and participated in many North Brunswick community activities including Pop Warner Football and the High School Booster Club.
His wife of 62 years, Harriet (Oldinsky) Hems died in 2019. He was also predeceased by his oldest child Bernice Joan Hems. Surviving are two daughters – Harriet Hems Wright and her husband James H. Wright of North Brunswick and Christine Diem and her husband Jeffrey Diem of Kingwood; his son Peter Hems of Asbury Park; and four grandchildren – Harrison James Wright, Joseph Hems Wright, Ashley Elizabeth Diem and Christopher James Diem.
Visitation will be 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Monday at Selover Funeral Home, 555 Georges Road, North Brunswick. Funeral services will be 9:15 AM Tuesday from Selover Funeral Home followed by a 10:00 AM Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church in North Brunswick. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a later date.