Joseph King Umstead was born on May 5, 1942, in Hagerstown, Maryland, to Gordon Joseph Umstead and Elizabeth Eckstine Liskey. Joe's middle name honored his beloved paternal grandmother, Bertha King. After surviving a near-fatal case of the measles as an infant, Joe grew up in Olney on the family farm, known as Hines Hatchery, raising chickens for eggs and meat, cooking barbecued chicken for events, conducting school tours, and supplying eggs, incubators, and baby chicks to local schools, zoos, and businesses. Joe graduated from Sherwood High School in 1960 and continued to work on the farm until he was drafted into the US Army in 1964. He served in Vietnam and returned to the farm in 1970. He and his sister, Bettie Ann Umstead Witt, inherited Hines Hatchery in 1971 after their parents died. He met Yong Soon Barker shortly after and they moved in together in 1972. Joe and Yong became devout members of St. Louis Catholic Church in Alexandria. In the mid 80’s Joe sold his half of the Hatchery to Bettie and began driving long-haul tractor trailers for North American Van Lines. He loved the freedom of the open road and was often away for long periods of time. He became the spokesperson for a synthetic motor oil, Cermak, that allowed truck drivers to go thousands of miles without changing the oil, often representing them at trade shows. When at home he loved cooking and baking bread, even culturing his own yeast. He was constantly dismayed at his inability to bake a good pumpernickel. He continued driving until he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and decided to retire to attend to his treatment. Joe battled colon cancer for many years, finally succumbing on October 17, 2021. Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Gordon and Elizabeth Umstead, and his sister and brother-in-law, Bettie Ann and Ed Witt. He is survived by his partner of 49 years, Yong Soon Barker of Alexandria, Virginia; three nieces, Theresa Grate (Jay), Karen Witt (Larry Goeller), Alicia Clugh (Dave), and a nephew Louis Witt (Anne) and six grandnieces and a grandnephew.
The funeral will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Rockville, Maryland, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the funeral mass will begin at 10:30 am, with burial immediately after in the church cemetery and then lunch following at a local restaurant.
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