julie at gabriele family tree dot com
|* Giuseppe * Joseph * Joe * Joey * Uncle Joe * Bello! * Dad * Popsey * Grandpa * Papa * GG *
|Joseph Ingardia, 91, passed away peacefully on Mar 13, 2013, at his home at The Village in Brookfield, surrounded by
Joe was born in Brooklyn, NY on Oct 28, 1921, to Marcello and Vita (Bongiovanni) Ingardia, both Sicilian immigrants.
He grew up in Brooklyn with his siblings and several cousins. His father's work as a stone mason sparked his interest in
engineering. His parents could not afford to send him to college, but with the help of community scholarships, he was
able to attend and graduate from City College of New York with a degree in structural engineering.
At a dance sponsored by Hunter College in May of 1941, Joe met the love of his life, Vincenza Pecoraro. They were
married in Manhattan on Feb 20, 1944, and started their life together in Fort Worth, Texas, where Joe had his first
engineering job, designing and stress-testing airplanes for the military. At the end of Word War II, he was drafted into
the Army to assist veterans with civilian career placement. Joe and Vinnie were able to return to New York, and raised
their children in the Bronx, Elmont L.I., and Greenwich, Conn. They moved to Brookfield in 1968.
Among the most famous projects in Joe's successful career was the monorail for the 1964 World's Fair. He loved to
travel, and spoke conversational Italian, Spanish, and French. He was always fond of dogs, from his childhood buddy
King, to his retirement companion, Gretchen. His many hobbies included chess, photography, still-life painting, hosting
and attending tag sales, and genealogy, locating Ingardias across the U.S. and in Italy, who could all trace their roots to
the small village of Paceco. In 2001, Joe coordinated a family reunion in Niagara Falls, for the Ingardia and Engardio
families he had united.
Joe never forgot the assistance he received to attend college, and devoted his retirement years to giving back to the
community. He brought his engineering expertise to the Appalachian Mountains, helping build homes for needy families.
He volunteered on Brookfield's Zoning Commission, with the Newbury Men's Club, the Senior Center, and many other
activities. He taught an afterschool chess program, and occasionally served as a substitute teacher for math and Spanish
in Brookfield schools. Most recently, he taught computer skills classes for senior citizens.
Joe's greatest pride was his family. He and his beloved wife Vinnie recently celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary.
He was devoted to and adored by his three children and their spouses: Jane and Larry Walker, Michael Ingardia, Susan
and Bill Gabriele, and daughter-in-law Minnie Ingardia; his six grandchildren and their spouses: David Walker, Cindy
Macdonald, Michael A. and Vanessa Ingardia, Eva and Keven Bartush, Julie Gabriele and Bill Haydasz, and Joanna and
Matthew Burnham; his seven great-grandchildren: Samantha, Quint, Autumn, and Michael Bartush, Meredith Macdonald,
and Josephine and Dillinger Ingardia; and a large extended family. He was predeceased by his brothers, Serafino, Paul,
and Ernest Ingardia, and his sister Jean Renda.
My sister and I are probably the luckiest grandkids ever. Joanna and I came along when Papa was retired, and we
never lived more than a 20 minute drive away from my grandparents. Their house was our second home, and I
can't possibly measure everything they taught us and did for us.
Papa, newly retired, had hundreds of business cards he would no longer use, and never one to let anything go to
waste, he converted them into flash cards, so I could learn the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, breeds of dog,
and even some basic vocabulary in Spanish. I probably didn't learn anything new in pre-school; it was all material
Papa had already taught me.
When I was little, I would always draw my "dream house" the same way: Pink with yellow shutters. So imagine
my amazement and delight on the Christmas when Papa's gift to Joanna and me was a dollhouse -- one he designed
and built from scratch himself -- painted pink with yellow shutters. He always stressed that the house belonged to
Joanna and me equally, but because of the color scheme, I decided it was more mine than hers!
He taught us our history and our family tree, and how to map out ancestors or descendants on a piece of paper or in
a spreadsheet, and important distinctions like the difference between a first-cousin-once-removed and a
second-cousin. He made sure we didn't just know that we were Italian, but that we were a quarter Sicilian, an
eighth Neapolitan, and so on. He told stories over and over so we would always remember them, and he recorded
most of them in his autobiography, "Memoirs to My Grandchildren," written in his distinct voice. I know he's
proud I'm continuing his work as the family historian.
When I was 12, I had the opportunity to go to Italy as part of an exchange student program. My parents couldn't
afford to send me, but Grandma and Papa felt so strongly that I should visit "the motherland" that they paid for my
trip. All I had to do in return was look for Ingardias in the phone book once I got there.
In middle school, I started falling behind in math, Papa's favorite subject, so he started tutoring me. He was my
math teacher once more in high school, when he subbed for my geometry teacher, and he got a big kick out of
pretending to scold me -- "Sit down, young lady!" -- in front of the whole class.
Every summer Papa held a tag sale, and he always left a card table empty so Joanna and I could sell our own items.
He taught us pricing strategy, keeping a log of all sales, and how to make change from the cash box (always an old
cigar box.) We would come over Thursday night to set up, and then sleep over so we could get to work first thing
Friday morning (after Papa made waffles for breakfast.) I'll never forget the year we woke up Friday morning and
Papa was gone. Grandma was cursing him up and down, and we even rang up a few customers before he came
back, carrying ten cast-iron skillets. He calmly explained that he went to a few tag sales, and found these skillets
marked a dollar each, which he could easily sell for ten dollars apiece: "Even if I sell only one, I will have made it
worth my while!" Grandma moaned, "All this crap we're trying to get rid of, he has to go out and buy more!"
He always encouraged me to write, and I wrote a few short stories just for him, at his request. As a Justice of the
Peace, he performed mine and Bill's wedding ceremony, and it was such fun to write the script for him, especially
the jokes I knew he would love delivering. I have always felt so proud to make him proud, and to make him laugh,
and I will always be proud to be his granddaughter.