Cover photo for Cary Joseph's Obituary
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1945 Cary 2023

Cary Joseph

January 10, 1945 — November 30, 2023

Ithaca, NY

It is with deep love that we share the news of Cary Joseph’s death on November 30, 2023. The end of his life was as peaceful as could be, much the way he lived his life – lots of ups and downs, but always leaning towards peace. His final days were filled with the presence of his wife and partner, Jayne Demakos, and a caring circle of friends who lovingly kept him company 24/7. 

Cary grew up in Los Angeles, attended San Jose State College, and later earned a Master’s degree in Organization Development from American University and National Training Labs. Cary’s work life initially centered in Boston, where he worked for Oxfam America, helping the organization function well and thrive.This experience crystallized his desire to work with groups and organizations, helping them to be healthy places to work. He co-founded CJM Consulting, where he worked for ten years primarily with non-profits and values-driven organizations. Cary brought his signature combination of insight and humor to his consulting work, designing and carrying out learning events with creativity and compassion. (with help from Jeanette Mallard, partner in CJM Consulting).

It's hard to believe that at some point early in Cary’s life he enlisted in the Navy and then later was drafted into the Army. It was with great clandestine psychological acuity that he managed to get himself honorably discharged from the Army - even after going AWOL by not returning back to base and instead traveling to the West Coast on a night out. Oh, Cary! 

Cary then spent much of his adult life in Ithaca, New York, where he was one of the founding members of the Moosewood Collective restaurant. He was a dedicated jazz musician who studied and played the bass from his early 20s. In his last two decades, Cary dedicated his life to ceramic arts. He became a master potter, artist, and pottery teacher. His pottery was/is a meditation on stillness and movement that expressed a deep, almost primordial quality. His approach seemed a conversation between naturalness and craft, between idea of Beauty and imperfection of object. A fellow potter describes Cary's ceramic art as akin to his work as a jazz musician — responding to the medium as the medium was responding to his touch. A musical approach to ceramics. Cary could often be found napping in the day, and, when asked, he would say, “I’m not sleeping. I am working on a pot”. (comments from colleagues and friends)

What did it feel like to be with Cary? Words that come to mind are: generous - in his listening and laughter; affectionate -Cary valued touch and physical affection, in addition to easily expressed love and appreciation; sincere - one could trust Cary to be real and truthful; graceful - in his easy friendliness; humble and unassuming - he was scrupulously unpretentious and he made room for others; playful - quick to laugh and to engage in play; peaceful - he was dedicatedly non-violent in word and deed; and grounded - one felt at home and safe in his presence. Cary was available for contact and connection, whether more deeply with close friends, or easily, in casual encounters as he moved through the world. (written by cousins, Ron and Chuck Moshantz).

Cary trusted that nature helps us through this passage of dying. Both before and during his illness, he often expressed his curiosity about it and said he was not afraid. Cary took his last breath in such an understated way. He just whisped away, his departure barely noticeable. It was so Cary. Cary knew that life is complicated, that humans are complicated. We try our best but often make mistakes. Cary practiced “being a Mensch”. What is a Mensch? A Mensch is a person of any gender who just shows up to do what's right, without regard for getting anything back in return. Cary became more and more realized in his practice of being a Mensch, even as he dealt with his own trials. It was a beauty to behold. Barry Lopez writes, "It is this feeling I want to give back. Not thank you or every blessing on you. But I wish for my life to protect your life." This is Cary. 

Cary is survived by his wife, partner, and best friend, Jayne Demakos; his beloved sister Susan Lipson; his first cousins/lifelong brothers-in-spirit, Ron Moshontz and Chuck Moshontz; an array of cherished nieces and nephews; and the precious gift of very close friends of many years standing.
To order memorial trees in memory of Cary Joseph, please visit our tree store.

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293 Irish Hill Road, Newfield, NY 14867

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