Joseph Lis receives one of several standing ovations from family, community leaders and former students during a dedication ceremony at S.E. Gross Middle School in 2013. | File 2013

The classroom was a stage for Joseph Lis. Accompanied by his supporting cast — including Stosh (a cutaway torso) and Sasha (a full-size skeleton) – Mr. Lis captivated students in his science classes at S.E. Gross School for almost 40 years.

“I performed, entertained and taught science,” Lis told the Landmark in 2013 when 200 people, many of them former students, gathered in the school’s auditorium to celebrate the impact he had on their lives.

Mr. Lis, known to his students as “Mr. Lis the Scientist,” died Oct. 15, 2016 at the age of 87.

Born June 12, 1929, Mr. Lis grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago and attended St. Philip High School before serving stateside in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War. 

He received his teaching degree from DePaul University and landed his job at S.E. Gross School in 1956 largely by getting lost on his way to visit Brookfield Zoo.

The person he asked for directions happened to be the school district’s superintendent, and during their chat Mr. Lis mentioned he had a teaching degree.

“He signed me up then and there,” Lis told the Landmark. 

S.E. Gross School in Brookfield would be Mr. Lis’ second home for next 37 years. He met his wife, Marlene, a sixth-grade teacher, at the school and he taught his three daughters science there. He retired in 1993.

Mr. Lis lived in Lake Zurich at the time of his death. He previously lived in Brookfield and Willowbrook.

He was the husband of the late Marlene H. Lis (nee Drog); the father of Kathy (Rick) Gornik, Laurie (Jeff) Wilhoit and the late Christine Lis; the grandfather of Lauren Gornik and Heather Gornik; and the uncle of many nieces and nephews.

Visitation is Friday, Oct. 21 from 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. at Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9447 31st St. in Brookfield. 

A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Oct. 22 at 11:30 a.m. at St. Louise de Marillac Church in LaGrange Park, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.

Memorial donations are appreciated to Caring Women Connection, J. Lis Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 234, Lake Zurich, Illinois, 60047.