March 25, 1928 ~ May 19, 2013|
Joseph Nunzio Laurella left our care and adoration into the arms of the Divine on May 19, 2013 surrounded by the love of his family at home following a brief illness. Born 3/25/28 to Carlo & Mary Colalillo Laurella in Bangor, PA.
The eldest of three; sister Lee and brother Carl, Joe was a leader in his family and community. They moved to Jersey City, NJ during the Great Depression. Joe's memories of those times were not of hardship but of family and adventures of youth in Jersey and New York City. Days were filled playing stickball in the street, the movies or sneaking into Yankee Stadium. He bragged that he could go to Coney Island with a nickel and come home with a quarter. An industrious youth, Joe worked concessions at Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium. He was a talented athlete playing football and baseball throughout school. He played second base for the minor league Newark Bears and worked out with the Brooklyn Dodgers. His family moved to California in 1949 where his father owned Carl's Bar in Los Angeles and Joe also worked. Joe was drafted February 1951 into the U.S. Army, K Co., 1st Cavalry Division. K Company received a General Commendation from United Nations Command 9/6/51, "For service against an overwhelming number of enemy at a forward patrol base". Joe was wounded in action 10/7/51 and spent six months in the hospital. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Service Star for his service. However, his dream of playing professional baseball ended that day. Upon discharge, Joe began a 30-year career in administration with the Dept. of Defense.
He married his wife Ophelia 1/26/56 in Las Vegas with 12 friends in attendance. They raised three children: Marlena, Joseph and Carl in southern California until the family moved to Italy in the late 60's. They traveled extensively during those years collecting memories of sights and adventures. When transferred back, the family made a home in Davis County, UT for 25 years. One of Joe's great joys was coaching and mentoring youth athletes; coaching Marlena's softball teams, and boy's baseball and football. Under his tutelage, kids learned leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship. He and Ophelia placed great value in their children's education and activities and did not miss one game, event or performance in which their children were involved. Joe loved golf and he shared that passion with Ophelia and the kids. He was a repeat Club Champion (net) at Hill AFB, got 4 holes in one -including a 215 yard 3 wood at a Pro-Am and "carried" Carl to victory multiple times in the Fathers Day Scramble at the Jeremy Country Club in Park City, Utah.
Joe and Ophelia moved to San Diego County in 1999 spending hours walking the beaches, golfing and making new friends. Joe had a gift for making friends with anyone-from playing golf with the Generals to the waitress at the Officers Club-he found common ground and built a bridge of genuine friendship. Ophelia preceded Joe in passing in 2003 after 48 years of marriage. She was the first love of his life.
Joe was blessed a second time when he met his future wife Mai Pham after a seating dispute between them on a casino bus in 2005. After a five year courtship that took them to Europe and numerous cruises together, they married 10/19/10. Mai and her children and grandchildren became a second family to Joe and loved them as much as his first. Mai brought a new light and joy to Joe's life and he was eternally grateful for this gift.
Joe is survived by his wife Mai, daughter Kelly (Tan), Alexis, Angeleen and Alana; daughter Kimmi (Kevin), Wesley, Summer-Leigh and Jaeden; daughter Marlena Laurella Holman, Tucson, AZ, Travis (Carrie), Tim (Ashley); son Joseph N. Laurella, Syracuse, UT, (Laurie), Sean (JoAnn), Josiah and Reva; son Carl L. Laurella, Park City, UT (Vanessa) Ashley (Joey), Emma, Carlo, Vincent; great-grandsons Alex, Brendan and Joseph Lucca. Sister, Lee Marklein, St. Louis, MO, Carla (Dennis) and Tracy. Preceded in death by brother Carl and son in law Scott Holman.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Joe's honor to the Armed Services YMCA (www.asymca.org). Correspondence c/o Carl L. Laurella,,8707 Parleys Lane, Park City, UT 84098. Interment: Ft. Rosecrans National Military Cemetery, Point Loma, San Diego, CA.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from May 26 to May 29, 2013