Lt. Col. Joseph B. Bellino, 77
Shrewsbury - These days of social distancing are the antithesis to the person we knew and loved…Joe Bellino. Family, friend or stranger, any time you saw Joe, you were greeted with a huge hug and a kiss. Italian heritage through and through he and his wife, Sue, loved life and the many people in their wide range of friends. They lived a life of faith that promises a wonderful reunion in heaven for eternity. Sue was there to greet Joe with a long awaited welcome and perhaps a few choice words. They've rejoined their son, Joseph and members of the Bellino, Panzero and Dell'Olio families. What was once on earth continues now for them in heaven.
Joe died peacefully at home with family at his side on Friday, August 28, 2020 after a short battle with cancer. He was 77.
Born in Worcester on July 29, 1943 he was the son of the late Jackino and Esther (Russo) Bellino he grew up in the Greendale area of Worcester. At Sacred Heart Academy where he graduated, Joe was an All-Star basketball and baseball player. He earned his Bachelor's degree from St. Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont; graduating from the ROTC and entered into the US Air Force as an officer. Days after graduation, at his much loved Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, he married his high school sweetheart, Susanna M. Panzero on June 19, 1965. The two began their military journey stationed in Florida but after four years, made their way back to Massachusetts. Mount Carmel remained a big part of their lives. As teenagers, they spent every weekend on the dance floor at the Rec Center and later, Joe served on the parish council and the committee to help save the church from its closing. Their faith and love for their parish kept them grounded to their roots and sustained and guided them all their lives.
Their home on Vega Drive in Shrewsbury was the home that Joe and Sue built. Often the gathering space for good food, drink and lots of laughs; it was also where love lived.
Joe enjoyed a successful career as a Lt. Colonel with the United States Air National Guard serving as Commander of the 101st Air Control Squadron on Skyline Drive in Worcester. Joe led his squadron to the first and subsequent unprecedented Outstanding Unit Awards. He retired in 2004.
The consummate competitor, Joe was an avid tennis player who spent hours playing at the Shrewsbury Racquet Club. As his knees aged, he traded in his tennis racquet for golf clubs. He grew to love the game of golf and was a familiar face at The Haven Country Club in Boylston. Joe and his son-in-law, Tony whom he considered a son and friend won the Club Invitational in 2010.
Joe never needed to prove that family was the most important thing in his life. His relationship with his daughter Nicki was more than just that of father and daughter and even more-so since Sue's death in 2016. Joe had special and unique relationships with each of his grand kids. With Alyssa and Gabrielle it was going on dates where he set subtly instilled sage advice about dating. With Anthony it was drink and cigar in the back yard and with Matthew is was time on the links playing golf. With Kevin they shared their love and talent for cooking; for Joseph it was being his biggest fan; coaching him from the sidelines in both football and lacrosse. Gifts given are gifts received.
Joe and Sue were a dynamic, fun and wonderful couple who enjoyed life…laughed…and lived each moment to the fullest. Joe's sense of humor was notorious as well. He was known to belly laugh at his own jokes; most of which were repeated to the same audience on more than one occasion. Joe became a father-figure to many, accruing a number of additional children & grandchildren over the years.
We know that for us life has changed, not ended. Joe's legacy lives on in his daughter, Nicole M. 'Nicki' Franzoso and her husband, Tony; his grandchildren, Anthony, Matthew, Joseph and Gabrielle Franzoso, all of Shrewsbury, Alyssa and Kevin Bellino and his daughter-in-law, Karen Senosk and her husband, Steve all of Boylston; his sister, Jacqueline Jacques of Worcester; cousins with whom he was very close including Louis & Laura Dell'Olio and Tony & Betty Chionchio; nieces & nephews and so many wonderful friends, including Rose Carelli of Shrewsbury.
Family and friends will honor and remember Joe's life by gathering for a viewing from 4 - 7 pm Tuesday, September 1st at The Haven Country Club, 369 Cross Street, Boylston. In accordance with regulations during this pandemic and adhering to capacity limitations the number of people in the building will be strictly monitored by funeral home staff. We encourage you to come but so as to accommodate the many people the visits will be limited.
His Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday in Saint John's Church, 44 Temple Street Worcester at 10:00 a.m. Msgr. Michael Rose will officiate. Burial with military honors will follow in St. John's Cemetery, Worcester.
In lieu of flowers memorials in Joe's name may be made to St. John's High School, Advancement Office, 378 Main Street, Shrewsbury, MA 01545 or Notre Dame Academy, 425 Salisbury St., Worcester MA 01609.
Arrangements by James & John Heald. To view Joe's online tribute and guest register please visit www.joycefuneralhome.com
Published by Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Aug. 30 to Aug. 31, 2020.