Joseph James Ionno
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MARION: Joseph James Ionno died peacefully at home on Friday surrounded by loved ones. Joe was born in Magnolia, Ohio on June 8th, 1921 to John and Jennie Ionno, immigrants from Italy. His was a small town boyhood within a close knit community typical of the early 20th century.
After graduating from high school Joe attended Kent State University. During World War II he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the Seventh Army Air Corp in the China-Burma-India Theater. As the tail gunner and radio operator of a B-24 Bomber crew he flew on 13 missions before his plane was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft guns on November 27th 1943. Joe was wounded in the foot but continued fighting, hitting a Japanese Zero before his plane crashed into the Indian Ocean. He rescued a crew member from the debris and he and the surviving crew members floated on two life rafts in the Indian Ocean for 50 hours before being rescued by a joint American-British team. Joe was awarded the Silver Star for exceptional bravery and the Purple Heart. After the war Joe attended Ohio State University, graduating in 1951 with a degree in journalism.
He is remembered for serving as news director for WMRN radio between 1951 and 1966 and was highly regarded for the quality of his reporting and professionalism of his broadcast delivery in an era before the internet when newsmen went into the field to gather the news. After leaving WMRN Joe became a writer for The Columbus Dispatch, first as a state writer, then as a feature writer for the Dispatch Sunday Magazine. Several of his stories were picked up for national syndication.
He retired in 1983, spending many years enjoying the company of his family and friends, growing tomatoes the size of small pumpkins, and continuously lengthening his stone wall.
Joe was a member of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, Sigma Delta Chi Honorary Journalism Fraternity, the Order of Symposiarch, and belonged to the parish of the St. Mary Catholic Church. In 2006 he was honored with the "Night of 1000 Stars" Friend of the Community Award in recognition for his contribution to Marion's history.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Anthony.
He is survived by his wife, Patty; and five sons: Kevin (Margie Thompson), Chris (Connie), Michael (Debbie Atkins), Jon (Mary), and Patrick (Carrie); he also had 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson.
Visiting hours will be from two to five o'clock on Sunday at Gunder/Hall & Folk Funeral Directors. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary Catholic Church on Monday at eleven o'clock, with Father Thomas Buffer presiding. Burial will be in Marietta on a date not yet determined.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to Kingston Adult Day Care Center of Marion, Ohio or St. Mary Catholic Church of Marion. Online condolences may be expressed to www.gunderhallandfolk.com.
Gunder/Hall & Folk Funeral Home
347 West Center Street Marion, OH 43302
Published in the Marion Star on Dec. 22, 2013