BERWICK — James Joseph Cerase Sr., 84, of Berwick, passed away suddenly on Saturday evening, Dec. 7, 2013, in Allentown.
Born Aug. 31, 1929, in Plains Township, he was a son of the late Alfonso and Irene Genoble Cerase.
He was a graduate of the Plains High School, class of 1947. Upon graduation, he worked for his father's company, Cerase Fruit & Produce, Plains Township.
He married Connie Poland on Jan. 6, 1951, and their marriage lasted for 60 years until her death on July 12, 2011.
He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951 until 1953, when he was honorably discharged.
He then worked for the Consolidated Cigar Company, Royal Swan and Jos. Notariani Produce in Scranton. Then he began a new career as an accomplished car salesman for Hometown Ford in Tamaqua, Jack Kershner Auto Sales and Brown Chevrolet in Berwick. In 1976 he joined the Ertley Motorworld Group until his retirement in 1995.
Jim was a devout Catholic and possessed a strong faith in God. He served as an usher at St. Joseph Church in Berwick for more than 50 years. He was a 50-year regular member of the Maria Assunta Society, a 4th Degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Catholic War Veterans.
There was nothing he enjoyed more than a good cigar! You never saw him without one!
Jim was an avid sports fanatic, especially when it came to Notre Dame football, New York Yankees baseball, Duke basketball and Green Bay Packers football. However, his heart and soul belonged to Berwick sports. He never missed a practice or a game, whether it was basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball or his true passion, Berwick football. It didn't matter if the game was home or away, he was always there. He was a long time chain gang member for the Berwick football team.
Along with his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Patricia; brothers, Joseph and Peter; and sisters, Jenny and Mary.
He is survived by his son, James Jr., Peoria, Ariz.; daughters, Donna Alley, Berwick, and Dawn McHugh and her husband, Joseph III, Edwardsville; grandsons, Jacob Alley, Scranton, and James Cerase III and his wife, Kristen, Newark, Del.; granddaughter, Deedra, and great-grandson, Alex, both of Manassas, Va.; and "The Boys," Farley, Aescy and Lambeau.
Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the McMichael-Rairigh & Baker Funeral Home, 119-121 E. Third St., Berwick. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Joseph Church, 721 Monroe St., Berwick. Father Dennis Dalessandro will serve as the officiant. Burial will follow at Pine Grove Cemetery.
Memorial contributions can be made in James' memory to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 721 Monroe St., Berwick, PA 18603; or to the James J. Cerase Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Berwick Area Senior High School, 1100 Fowler Ave., Berwick, PA 18603.
Online condolences can be sent to www.baker-funeralhome.com.