It is said that a life well lived is reflected by who is with you when you pass and lives on in the impact you had on others. Joe was the ultimate cheerleader, consummate host and devoted to his family & friends. In his final hours, the 6th floor elevator doors of Victoria General Hospital opened to 20 of Joe’s family and closest friends sharing stories, laughter, and tears. When Joe passed on May 6th, 2023, age 67, he was surrounded by the family he loved and who loved him so dearly.

Born June 11, 1955 in Port Arthur, Ontario. Joe was the second child of Mary (Prsa) and Ignatius Vucko. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Barbara. His children, Kyle (Amelia), and Tanya (Reid). His grandchildren Maya and Jackson. His siblings Mary (Joe), Andy (Lorena), Helen (Greg) and Frank (Monica).

Throughout his life, Joe was always an active man. A starting guard for Sir John A MacDonald collegiate “Black Scots” basketball team, taking them to provincials his senior year. He also loved canoeing and outdoor activities.  Once in BC, he made a habit of hiking, playing league basketball, and later golf.

Early jobs in kitchens developed his love for food, cooking and sharing that love with others. This led to a degree in hotel & restaurant administration. After college he was hired by Wendy’s Restaurants to work in Canada’s first store. He quickly rose up the ranks, and started opening Wendy’s across Canada.

It was in Winnipeg, while in town for a Wendy’s store opening that he met the love of his life (at first sight), Barbara. They married a few short months later.

Over the next 8 years, Barb and Joe would travel coast to coast opening restaurants.  That adventure took them to Vancouver Island where Joe & Barb similarly found love at first sight. The snow-capped mountains on a sunny spring day as they drove into town immediately cemented their decision to move to Victoria.

Joe would go on to become the first Wendy’s franchisee in Canada, eventually opening 8 stores. Joe was a hands-on leader, who could be seen working the second grill on a busy lunch rush. A cheerleader for his team, he got tremendous satisfaction seeing someone in his store get promoted and thrive after working with him.

Despite being recognized multiple times as one of Wendy’s top franchisees and leaders, when asked ‘what do you do?’, Joe would simply reply “I’m a burger flipper”.

He later went on to fulfill a childhood dream of owning a pizza restaurant (upwards of 14) when he became a Little Caesars Pizza franchisee.

As much as he enjoyed his work, his family was always his priority. His son Kyle came in 1985, followed by Tanya in 1989.  Weekday evenings were filled with pick up basketball or beach-combing for crabs. Weekends always involved a family hike or bike ride. Family vacations to Disney World, Hawaii, and Europe created fond memories.

Once his daughter became his business partner, life took on new adventures. More travel. More time with friends. Pick up basketball was eclipsed by golf. In both sports, Joe made a great many friends.

Many of these friends (aka the “morning coffee group”) met weekday mornings. Their “no holds barred” discussions of local events were followed by a boisterous game of “birds in the bush” to determine who had to pay for everyone’s coffee that day. As Joe would tell it those 30 minutes always put a smile on his face that would last the entire day; unless he lost!

In 2015 Joe’s family grew when Kyle married Amelia and again in 2019 when Tanya married Reid. Joe loved his new daughter and son, but nothing could compare to the love he had for his grandchildren. In 2019 Joe became a grandfather or “Dedek” to Maya and in 2021 to Jackson. He was devoted to them. And that devotion was mutual – Dedek was known for his pancake breakfasts, foam milk and fast track to chocolate and ice cream.

Joe had a welcoming personality, and one of his favourite things was to host his many friends and family at his home. Whether it was Barb and Joe’s annual cocktail party or a Sunday dinner, one thing was certain, the food would be fantastic and your wine glass would never be empty.

Joe had his medical challenges. Kidney failure led to a successful kidney transplant from his brother Andy in 2007 for which he was eternally grateful and a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2013. But Joe never wanted to be defined by his illness. He lived fully, with optimism, joy and positivity.

Joe was a great man. A good son, supportive brother, loving husband, devoted father, adoring grandfather and a true friend to many.

Those that knew and loved him were lucky. Joe, we love you, you will be missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, June 4, 2023, 2:00 pm -5:00 pm in the Sequoia Centre at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive, Victoria, BC.

In lieu of flowers, we kindly request a donation be made to the Victoria Hospital Foundation supporting kidney care in memory of Joe.  Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens

  • jackie nicolson

    Sending my condolences to all of you at this difficult time. Joe was a great boss and for 30 years I enjoyed working for the Vucko family. Wendy’s hasn’t been the same without him .

  • Connie Antonsen

    Dear Barb and family,
    We heard about Joe’s passing and have been thinking of you. We enjoyed knowing Joe as a kind man on the street; always smiling and with eyes that sparkled.
    Take care,
    Connie and John

  • Family Somen

    Dear Vucko Family,

    We were deeply saddened to hear of Joe’s passing. We will remember him for his infectious smile, captivating storytelling, and unwavering generosity. Our family had the privilege of crossing paths with Joe at different stages of our lives. As we celebrate his life, we want to share three stories about Joe’s immeasurable positive impact on our lives.

    Our son Sebastian was the first to meet Joe on a trip to Toronto with his cousin Darko Vucko while they were still high school students in Slovenia. Despite never having previously met, Sebastian remembers how Joe took the two under his wing. They would play tennis and head to Wendy’s, not just to eat, but to hear stories about how the business actually works.

    Years later, when Sebastian moved to the US and found himself in Vancouver for business for the first time, Joe went out of his way to travel from Victoria to pick him up and showcase the beauty of Victoria.

    In the following years, Joe and Barbara welcomed Sebastian’s family to their Victoria home during their trips to Whistler. Those were joyful opportunities to catch up on life developments over glasses of wine. This past winter, even Sebastian’s parents joined the trip, and the Vuckos’ generosity was unrelenting even as five of us visited.

    We extend our deepest condolences to the Vucko family.

    Family Somen

  • Terry and Leslie Farmer

    Barb, Kyly and Tanya,
    Terry & I were so upset to hear of Joe’s passing. He really led a most active and interesting life. He achieved so much and no wonder you are all so proud of him.
    Terry and I were certainly glad to have called Joe a friend.
    We are presently in England and therefore unable to be with you on Saturday…we’ll be thinking of you all.
    Love, Terry and Leslie

  • Neil Rawnsley

    The Vucko family was our next door neighbour in Victoria and “family” was definitely a priority. Our daughters Channa and Laura were constantly at the Vucko home with Kyle and Tanya. Roller skates, teenage mutant ninja turtles sweatshirts, video games, Aikido at Glenlyons etc. were all apart of our early family life with Joe and Barb providing the hospitality and the kids the chaos. On his arrival to the neighbourhood I introduced Joe to our basketball group where he was the youngest and one of the most enthusiastic recruits. He was a great part of our early family life and it was an important time in our kids lives. As competitive and successful as Joe was, it was his family which brought him the greatest joy. Knowing Joe and his family will always be a part of our family history. We and they moved on but their impact brings us much joy.
    To Barb, Kyle, Tanya and the rest of the family we offer our heartfelt condolences. He went far too early but will be fondly remembered.

  • Les Leyne

    I have fond memories of playing basketball with Joe. He was enthusiastic, friendly and fun to be around.
    My condolences to his family.

  • Dennis Watson

    I was fortunate enough to meet Joe in high school some 53 years ago and we quickly became fast friends. He was my confidant, my team mate and for a while, co-worker part time at the same golf and country club. Most importantly, Joe was an inspiration due to the hard work and perseverance he applied to every endeavour. I was not surprised to see Joe become a great success in business and life and to do so with humility. As the years passed I got to observe his dedication to his family and his community. Joe’s passing is an irreplaceable loss. My wife and I would like to offer our sincere condolence to his family and friends.

  • Roman Vucko

    The awareness of transience is bittersweet and intertwined with a sense of sadness and helplessness.
    We also bowed our heads in the homeland of Joe’s parents, Slovenia. My condolences to the family and all who loved him.

  • Shirin Purewal

    In loving memory of Joe,

    Two decades ago, during my days as a student and a dear friend of Kyle’s, Joe and Barb graced my life with their immense kindness and warm hospitality. It was a time when homesickness weighed heavy on my heart, and my family resided far away in Africa. Yet, Joe and Barb extended their love, inviting me into their home for Thanksgiving, ensuring that I did not feel alone in the dorms.

    That cherished memory has remained within my heart, a testament to the profound impact of Joe’s genuine nature. With an open heart, Joe always made sure I felt welcomed into their home anytime.

    As we bid farewell to Joe, let us remember his beautiful soul, one that radiated compassion and left a mark on the lives he touched. May he find eternal peace in the embrace of serenity, forever held in our memories as a beacon of kindness and love.

    Rest in peace, dear Joe.

  • Dal Mirosevic

    I met Joe by coincidence as a result of Barb’s and my wife’s bridge games. Joe and I got along immediately. Both of us were sons of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, Joe’s from Slovenia and mine from Croatia. We always had a verbal competition on whose side was better, all in fun and jest. The few years we got to know each other we got closer going to men’s night functions sharing dinners with our wives and friends.. Joe was a people magnet and how could he not be; he always had a kind, encouraging word and was always able to shower praise on people. When my wife Norra and I built a home in Croatia…guess who was our first visitor…yes…Joe; he was on a trip through Slovenia with Barb and he made a point on his itinerary to stop to see us. We were honored. On one walk we had in Victoria, Joe shared his previous medical issues that he had overcome and how he had developed a positive philosophy of living through obstacles, as opposed to going around them. He said that’s how he was dealing with life. I found out shockingly about Joes passing while currently in Croatia so I write this from Croatia, as is befitting to Slovenian friend, as he would always mention regarding us being immigrant children from those areas, that we were brothers from a different mother. Joe, it will feel emptier when I return to Victoria and not have you there. May you rest in eternal peace friend

  • Christine Kerr

    Joe had the greatest smile, which always made me feel so welcome when I visited Barb and Joe’s home. I enjoyed to see the passion he had for good wine and food, and how he would take great delight in sharing this with his friends and family.
    I had the pleasure of visiting their home last summer and watching Joe in the pool with his Grandson, it was a joy to see just how much fun they were both having! And just how proud he was of that little boy!
    Joe was a very special man! I will miss him.

  • Sara Torrez

    Having known Joe since I was 10, and the pleasure of working for him for 9 years so many good memories stand out in my mind. Mainly of him and my mom, who also loved working for Joe and would joke she was his secretary when people called for him at the store or he got mail there. I’m sure they’re together now smiling down on all of us.
    Sending all my love. Xoxo

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