Devoted husband, treasured father and beloved grandfather are just some of the descriptive labels for Joseph A. (Joe) D’Ambrosio, 77, of Buckeye, Arizona. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we said goodbye to Daddy October 3, 2015. Over the last 9 years, he bravely and courageously battled several recurrences of Stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma and Renal Cell Cancer, always facing each challenge with a smile and a stoic dignity. As recently as September 18, he celebrated a clear PET scan. However, the various chemotherapy treatments weakened his body to the point it could no longer fight. We are blessed to have had him in our lives for so long and will do our best to carry forth his most honorable traits: generosity, strength, faith and a great love of people.
Born in Elmira, New York, Joe was the first of four children of Joseph R. and Philomena D’Ambrosio. Joe was always surrounded by friends who loved being with this charming, fun-loving, gentle giant of a man. Photographs from every stage of his life proved two things, Joe always stood head and shoulders above everyone else and his megawatt smile was a constant. He graduated from Elmira Free Academy in 1957 and worked in the auto industry and the freight industry in his early years. He spent many years as a fireman with the West Elmira Volunteer Fire Department. Joe sold fire trucks and fire equipment, first in New York and Pennsylvania, then in Texas, where he earned recognition as his company’s Salesman of the Year. His clients loved him for his honesty and reliability.
An avid outdoorsman, Joe enjoyed hunting, fishing and skeet-shooting. He made annual trips to South Dakota for pheasant-hunting, bagged a few trophy bucks and spent time with family and friends at Fur, Fin and Feather, a sportsmen’s club in upstate New York.
Being a first-generation Italian-American, Joe conversed primarily in Italian with his parents and grandparents until he started school. His sisters recalled he was more advanced in his Italian language skills than they were. He proudly carried on the tradition of the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes, teaching his daughter about beloved dishes from his childhood. As is common with many Italians, food is life. Joe was no different, loving many Italian specialties including aglio e olio, braciole, lasagna, stuffed calamari and all types of seafood.
A lifelong football and baseball fan, Joe enthusiastically followed the New York Giants until his daughter was born and converted him to a Cowboys fan, a true sign of the level of devotion in this father-daughter relationship. He also loved Baylor University athletics. Fall weekends were devoted to watching college games on Saturday and NFL on Sunday.
Despite a prolonged battle with cancer, Joe really loved to travel and spend time with his family. In 2008, the family took a trip to Italy to celebrate his first victory over this disease. Joe loved seeing Rome, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and especially the ancestral homes of his parents in the Molise and Puglia regions. A highlight of the trip was being able to meet some of his maternal cousins, who were as warm and hospitable as Joe. In 2010, the family took to the high seas for an Alaskan cruise, celebrating Joe and Nancy’s 40th wedding anniversary.
More precious than any trip taken or title held was the last 13 months with his grandson Travis Joseph. Joe was the first one at the hospital after Travis’ birth and Travis was one of the last people to see Joe before he entered the hospital for the final time. Now that he has been called to his heavenly home, we know he is holding close to his heart his other grandbabies, twins Shelby Jayne and Dalton Joseph.
He is survived by wife Nancy, daughter Allison and son-in-law Jamie Bones, grandson Travis Bones, sisters and brothers-in-law Mary Ann and Bob Buzzetti, Carmela and Dennis Whitford and Antoinette and Marc Brodkin, 2 aunts, 1 uncle, several cousins, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, uncle Vincent Mucci and grandchildren, Shelby and Dalton Bones.
A memorial Mass was held 10:00 am October 6, 2015 at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Goodyear, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in honor of Joe to St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital or M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.