Joseph Farina passed away in his sleep at the grand age of 93 on March 25, 2014, at the Mountain Glen Retirement Community in Mt. Vernon, Washington. This loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather is now in the loving arms of his Lord and Savior.
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Joe was born on December 4, 1920, in Sora, Italy, the eldest son of Frank and Restitute (Iarusci) Farina. In 1924, his family immigrated to the United States from Sora, Italy, passing through Ellis Island, New York, and settling in the Italian neighborhood in Canton, Ohio. As the oldest child of 5, Joe quit school at the age of 16 to help provide for his large family by working for the railroads and as a machinist at the Timken Roller Bearing Mill.
In September 1941, Joe enlisted in the Marines and served as a sea-going Marine in the North Atlantic in WWII. For 3 years he was a gunner on battleships, performing commando raids on German submarine bases and also escorting merchant ships in the North Atlantic. After receiving severe internal injuries from a detonated bomb during battle, Joe was hospitalized for 3 months and received a medical discharge as corporal in 1943, just months before his ship was to embark to Normandy.
In 1945 Joe headed as far west as he could on a bus until it stopped in Seattle. Seattle City Light was hiring hard rock miners to work on the construction of Ross Dam, so Joe became an ironworker doing cableway rigging. This was the beginning of Joe's amazing 38 years of ironwork where he was a member of Ironworkers Union 505 and the local Ironworkers Union 86 for 68 years. Some of his most memorable jobs included the LaConner Bridge, the Vantage Bridge, the Horsetail Falls Bridge on the North Cross Highway, and the I-5 Bridge at Mt. Vernon, eventually working on approximately 25 bridges from Oregon to Canada. He worked on Ross Dam, High Gorge Dam, Chief Joseph Dam, and Yellowtail Dam as well as many towers and buildings from Seattle to Nome, Alaska.
Joe met the "Love of his life" Ann while working on Ross Dam in 1946. Ann was a school teacher but during that summer of 1946, she worked at Ross Dam as a waitress at the ironworkers' camp site, fell in love with Joe's "Italian charm", and on June 21, 1947, they were married in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
For six decades, Joe and Ann lived in the Mt. Vernon area where they raised one son, Joe F. Farina ("Joey"). Eventually, both Joe and Ann retired in the mid 1980's and travelled in their RV with their many friends, often beachcombing every shoreline along the Pacific Coast or exploring many of the country's national parks. Some of Joe and Ann's favorite times were spent with their 3 grandchildren, traveling around the Pacific NW, showing them how to find an agate and teaching them about the beauty of nature. Joe and Ann travelled the world together to Alaska, Italy, Germany, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Panama and the Caribbean. Yet no matter how far away they travelled, their greatest pleasure was to spend their days at their cabin on Guemes Island with their friends and family. Their 3 grandchildren spent countless hours with their Papa and Gram playing on Guemes Island's Agate beach. Papa Joe was able to spend these last four years introducing his 4 great-grandsons to the charm of Guemes Island.
Joe Farina was an active member of Mt. Vernon's Emmanuel Baptist Church for 61 years. Over the years he served as a Deacon, a Sunday school teacher, a leader of Boys' Brigade, and he participated in bible studies and prayer groups. Joe's lifelong friendships in his church family have provided him much comfort and companionship over the years, especially as his health declined.
Joe's hobbies included travelling, beachcombing, rock collecting, woodworking, reading, gardening, boating and fishing. He was a wonderful storyteller who was always quick to share his robust laugh, the twinkle in his eyes, and words of advice and prayer with those he loved. He had so many friends of all ages. He cared for others and people loved "Papa Joe".
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law Joe and Connie Farina; a grandson Tony and his wife Karla; his granddaughter Angela Farina; and his granddaughter Janelle and her husband Brad Stewart. He was extremely proud to have 4 great-grandsons - Zachary and Alex Farina and Cy and Kase Stewart. He was richly blessed with many nieces and nephews back east, many of whom made frequent trips out to Mt. Vernon just to spend time with their "Uncle Joe". He is also survived by his "extended family" in Yakima Bob and Gayle Hall, their 3 daughters Jaclyn, Kristin and Erica and their families.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife Ann in 2001; his sister Mary (Farina) Cosentino in 1999; his brother Jim Farina in 2003; his brother Frank Farina in 2005 and his brother-in-Law Joe Cosentino in 1999.
He is still survived by his sister Sue (Farina )Bittner in Ohio and his sisters-in-law, Nada Farina in Florida and Mary Farina in South Carolina.
Joe's family would like to thank the staff at Mountain Glen Retirement Community; Dianne L. Kutzke, ARNP; and Dr. Yelena Rosenburg for their compassionate care.
Public visitation hours will be held on Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 12:00 Noon until 8:00pm at Kern Funeral Home.
A Memorial service celebrating Joe's life will be held at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Friday, April 4, 2014, at 3:00pm.
Memorials can be made to the Emmanuel Baptist Church Deacon Fund, 1515 E. College Way, Mt. Vernon, Washington 98273.
You may share your memories of Joe, and sign his online guest register at www.kernfuneralhome.com
Arrangements are under the care of Kern Funeral Home.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company from Mar. 28 to Mar. 29, 2014
Kern Funeral Home
1122 South 3rd Street Mount Vernon, WA 98273