Joseph John Varady Sr., well-known Pennsylvania mineral collector and dealer, was born in Phoenixville on November 26, 1942, the son of Joseph Andrew Varady and Helen Marie Valko. He attended the Sacred Heart School on Church Street in Phoenixville from 1946-1955, and joined the Boy Scouts of America in 1953. He attended junior high at what is now Barkley Elementary on Second Avenue. Every summer during high school, Joseph worked as a camp counselor at a horse farm in Vermont. Joseph graduated from the newly built Phoenixville Area High School in 1959 where he played football and participated in track.
After graduating from High School in 1959, Joseph joined the U.S. Navy. He attended he Navy's Electronics and Electricity Preparatory School and was assigned to a destroyer in the North Atlantic, the USS Waller. Afterwards he was transferred to the USS Grand Canyon, a repair ship where he was classified an E5 electrician's mate, 2nd class. After the Navy, Joseph worked as a machinist at Burroughs in Downingtown from 1963 to 1968. In 1967 he attended the Pennsylvania Fire School, eventually becoming captain of the Friendship 2 Diving and Rescue Unit on the Northside of Phoenixville. At this time Joseph was also assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts Explorer Post #58.
Joseph's interest and expertise in geology earned him the position of vice president of the Mineralogical Society of Pennsylvania from 1967 to 1980. He served on the Board of Directors of the International Friends of Mineralogy, and was a charter member of the Antique Telescope Society. Joseph also frequently lectured to groups of geologists and scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In 1977 Joseph's interests in minerals turned him to the Jewelry industry where he earned degrees from the Gemological Institute of America and Stewart's International School for Jewelers.
Joseph began his commercial venture with Earth's Corner Jewelers in the Norco (now Coventry) Mall in the mid 1970s. Several years later he formed a partnership with his wife Geraldine (Organitini) and moved the newly revamped Earth's Corner Jewelers to Phoenixville.
Fueled by his interests in the Natural sciences, Joseph opened a science and nature store called Earth Echoes in 1995. He eventually expanded his interest in minerals to include paleontology, astronomy, and meteorites, and was the foremost expert on minerals and mines in the Phoenixville area. Joseph also served on the Board of Directors for the Historical Society of Phoenixville.
Local newspapers printed articles about Joseph discovering Dinosaur footprints in Douglassville, panning for gold in French Creek, and rediscovering the location of the Port Kennedy Bone Cave in Valley Forge. Whether volunteering to guide walks along the Schuylkill River Ravines, teaching others about minerals and astronomy, he always gave others his time and knowledge. He loved to paint in oils, to sketch and to create. His love of the lapidary arts eventually turned to a love for stone sculpture. He loved to read and he loved folk and Irish music, and was a very talented guitar player.
Joseph Varady died August 2, 2010. He is survived by his wife, son Joseph Varady and daughter Julia Potts (Varady).
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2018)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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