Joseph William Gawel, 76, of New Preston, affectionately known as "Papa," died Sept. 18, 2012. He was surrounded by his family.

Mr. Gawel was born Jan. 6, 1936, the son of the late William and Mary (Osuch) Gawel. He lived his entire life in New Milford.

Mr. Gawel was the husband of June (Steck) Gawel, whom he married while serving in the U.S. Army. Together they celebrated 51 years of marriage in July.

He was employed by Conn's Dairy, Sega Ready Mix and Kimberly-Clark, retiring in 1997.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Gawel is survived by a son, Joseph Gawel and his wife, Laurie, of Idaho; three daughters, Jacqueline Gardner and her husband, Chris, of New Milford; Katherine Gawel, of New Preston; and Kristin Dowler and her husband, Mike, of New Preston; 15 grandchildren, Christina, Stephanie and Carter Moots, Caroline and Christopher Gardner, Victor, Alexandra and Edward Gawel, Taylor, Zachary and Katelyn Young, and Kaley, Brendan, Brianan and Broghan Dowler; a sister, Louise Poletto, and her husband, Joe; and a brother, Gerald Gawel, and his wife, Nancy.

Memorials may be made to the American Legion, 377 Kent Road, New Milford CT 06776.

Private services will be at the convenience of the family.

The Lillis Funeral Home in New Milford is in charge of arrangements.