SOUTH BARRE - Joseph Alfred "Pepe" Aja, 94, longtime resident of South Barre, Vermont, passed away at St. Johnsbury Health and Rehab on Aug. 10.
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He was born on March 12, 1920, in Montpelier, Vermont, to Jose and Maria Aja. The family later moved to Barre, where he spent most of his childhood. He graduated from Spaulding High School in 1938. After high school, he attended night school, studying monumental drafting and design while working as a draftsman for several granite manufacturers. Joseph joined the U.S. Army in 1942. He served in World War II as a tech sergeant with the OSS and the 15th Air Force in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He was wounded twice while in Greece. In the 1990s, he wrote a book, "Call Me Lucky," about his exploits in the war. After his discharge from the Army he attended the Institute of Art, Boston, graduating in 1948.
He married Lorraine Pilini on March 11, 1950. In 1951, they moved to South Barre, where they lived for over 60 years.
Joseph worked for many years as a draftsman and etcher for Beck & Beck Granite Co. He also worked for several years as an art, drafting and driver's education teacher at Williamstown High School. Joseph was a well-known oil painter in the central Vermont area. His paintings were displayed in many shows throughout New England, winning numerous awards. He enjoyed gardening, reading and traveling with Lorraine. They spent many winters in Florida and South Carolina.
He is survived by his son, Douglas Aja, and Janis Mattson, of East Montpelier; daughter, Joan Aja, of South Barre; and brother-in law, Dominic Montagna, of California. He was predeceased by his wife, Lorraine, who died in 2013; and brothers Raymond and Manuel and sisters Trinis and Theresa Goyette.
He will be buried at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center. Burial and a remembrance gathering will be held at the family's discretion.
In lieu of flowers, a contribution in his honor can be made to your
Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 26, South Barre, VT 05670.
Published in Times Argus on Aug. 16, 2014