Joseph J. McGrane Jr.'s life interest was set early, when he visited his father on his farm in Concordville, Delaware County.
His father, Joseph J. Sr., lived and worked in the city, but kept the farm until about a decade ago, "just for farming animals," said Joyce, wife of Joseph Jr.
"Joseph would go out on the weekends and care for the animals," she said. Some the father sold, "but most were in the category of pets."
On Sunday, Nov. 22, Mr. McGrane, 70, of Palmyra, owner for the last 19 years of Paws to Heaven Pet Crematory in Pennsauken, died of esophageal cancer at home.
Soon after he graduated from the former Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School at 48th Street and Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia, he began a 52-year career as a lab technician at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.
"He performed necropsy and instructed students," his wife said.
"It was his one and only job," she added, "with a deep interest and love for all animals and caring for their well-being."
The crematory, on the other hand, employed "several men, not family members, too numerous to mention, there all the time."
He did not retire from Penn or his crematory, she said.
"He was the most generous, awesome gentleman you would ever want to meet," said Sara Ercolono, his next-door neighbor in Palmyra. "He would come home and we would chat across the fence."
Besides his wife, Mr. McGrane is survived by son Joseph; daughter Lisa; two sisters; a grandchild; and a great-grandchild.
Viewings were set from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, and 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, both at the Snover Givnish funeral home, 1200 Route 130 N., Cinnaminson, before a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Fourth Street and Linden Avenue, Riverton, with entombment in Lakeview Memorial Cemetery.
Donations may be sent to the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association, Box 55071, Boston, Mass. 02205, or www.ecaware.com.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.givnishfuneralhome.com.