Obituary of Joseph Rango
June 20, 2022
Joseph Rango was born on January 4, 1924 in Cassano alla Ionnio, Calabria, Italy to Francesco and Pasqualina Rango. He was the youngest of five children who had survived past infancy. The family farmed and owned a cantina where the family-label wine was sold.
Joseph was, by his own admission, a bit of a troublemaker during his youth who loved playing cards more than helping with the family business. His drinking buddy, Antonio Frascino, lived up the mountain from Cassano in a tiny village called Civita, and Joe was aware of Antonio’s twin sister, Gemma, his future wife. But there was little interaction between them because Gemma’s mother was a traditionalist.
Joe served in the Italian Army during WW II. About midway through Joe’s hitch, Italy switched allegiance to the Allies, and Joe’s certificate of service signed by Field Marshall H.R. Alexander shows he was honorably discharged. After the war, Joe returned to Cassano, but he had bigger ambitions than to work for the family business. And so around 1950, Joe left for Canada to find his fortune.
Joe came to America in 1951 and worked in the Detroit area’s auto plants. He soon had the opportunity to learn the cabinetmaker trade, and this became his lifelong career. In 1952, he moved to Corona, New York, an Italian expatriate enclave. There he looked up his old friend Antonio, who had moved from Civita with his mother, his sister Gemma and their younger brother Andrea.
Under America’s more permissive dating regime, one thing led to another and Gemma and Joe were married in 1954. They had two sons, Frank (b.1955) and Robert (b.1958).
Never a fan of the city, Joe resolved to move to a rural setting. In 1960, he bought property in Rocky Point, a bungalow community in eastern Long Island where Gemma’s parents had a small beach house. In 1962, the family moved full time to Rocky Point. Gemma and Joe loved their ranch house and, a half century before HGTV, made major improvements with their own hands.
Fortunately, Long Island’s economy was growing and provided plentiful opportunities for a skilled cabinetmaker. Among Joe’s employers were Grumman and Sklar Woodworking. Joe retired from Sklar in 1989 at the age of 65.
Over the course of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, the boys moved out, much to the chagrin of Gemma, who had the strongly held belief that sons should only move out after they marry. But Gemma and Joe remained loyal to Rocky Point. They were together there until Gemma moved to nearby assisted living for health reasons. Joe faithfully visited her every day until her death in 2015.
After Gemma passed, there were experiments with Italy and California, where Joe thought he may have wanted to move, but Joe always ended up back where he was most comfortable, in Rocky Point. Up until the pandemic, Joe was self-sufficient, driving at night and getting up on the roof of his house to “adjust” his TV dish. His neighbor snapped a photo of Joe cleaning his gutters at age 95.
Ironically, Joe came full circle in 2022, when he moved to an assisted living facility in New York City to be close to his older son and daughter-in-law Barbara. By then, Joe had forgotten that he hated the city.
Greenwich Village Funeral Home
Wednesday, June 22nd
4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
Coram, New York
Thursday, June 23rd
Share a Memory
The Obituaries are currently being upgraded. Please contact us to report any issues.
Chi muore resta nella memoria, la memoria rappresenta il nostro tesoro. Ciao Zio Peppino, resterai sempre nei nostri cuori. Riposa in pace. Franco, Maria, Alessio e Antonio
Posted by: Antonio Rango - Cassano all\' Ionio, Italy - Family June 21, 2022