NILES, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Joseph Daniel Cortese, 86, passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, after a long battle with bladder cancer.
Joe was a beloved father, grandfather, husband, uncle and friend to so many and he is dearly missed. Joe truly loved life and fought very hard to beat his disease. He was active and independent up until the last couple of weeks of his life. He passed away at home, surrounded by family.
Joe was born in Niles, Ohio, on September 14, 1933, to Sam and Mary (Caroppoli) Cortese.
Joe graduated from Niles McKinley High School in 1951 where he was a member of the Niles McKinley Band.
As a boy, he worked at the local movie theatre and then at Copperweld Steel Company, while in high school.
After graduation, Joe served as a Seabee for the U.S. Navy from 1952 – 1956. He was stationed in Cuba for a good portion of his service and while there, he got permission to start a band as entertainment for his fellow recruits. Joe played trumpet for the band and received accolades from his friends and Navy officers for his work in bringing entertainment to their group.
He attended Youngstown State University upon his discharge from the Navy and graduated with a degree in accounting in 1959. Joe was very active in the Nu Sigma Rho and Sigma Tau Gamma fraternities and made life-long friendships during this time.
While at YSU, a good friend introduced him to Claire Sozio. He and Claire were married on April 30, 1960.
Joe’s favorite job was as the Director of ITT Business College where he not only led the school but also taught classes. He spent most of his career as a CPA at Reali, Giampetro & Scott, from which he retired in 2001.
Joe spent some time in government service in the early 1960s. He was elected Liberty Township Clerk in 1963 and was also a member of the Zoning Board and Chairman of the Committee for the New Township Hall. In other areas of service, he was a member of the South Side Lions Club and served on the Board of Directors for both the Youngstown Playhouse and the Oakland Center for the Arts.
Joe loved being onstage, especially with his daughter, Juliann and son-in-law, John. At the Youngstown Playhouse, he played Senator Wingwoah in the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Captain Dick Scott in Beyond the Horizon; Pop, Mr. Weber, and Mr. Goldstone in Gypsy; Lt. Ward and Judge Morganthau in Annie; Mr. Prescott in George Washington Slept Here; and Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music. He and his wife, Claire, also worked as backstage crew for several shows at the Youngstown Playhouse and Oakland Center for the Arts and volunteered at Easy Street Productions.
In 2005, Joe and Claire moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. They had many wonderful years of trips to Joe and Claire’s favorite place on earth, Walt Disney World and even took a few Disney Cruises together. In 2010, they celebrated their 50th Anniversary with the family on a Disney Cruise. Joe received his nickname, Turbo Joe, because of his excitement for visiting the Disney Parks. He was up early to lead the pack to a day full of fun!
Joe was very social and loved meeting new people. He went out of his way to learn everyone’s name and to call them by name when he saw them. He valued his time with family and friends and stayed in contact with everyone, even across the miles. He was particularly close to his daughter, his son-in-law, and his grandchildren (Joelie and Jace). He was so proud of all of them and celebrated every accomplishment. Joe spent his free time watching Ohio State Football, building model ships, and flying model airplanes (he was a member of the Seminole Radio Control Club). Of his hobbies, he said that he had many of them but “was not good at any of them – bowling, golf, remote aircraft — but was excellent at watching football, Go Bucks!” He was also pretty amazing at building small ship models, having patience to get all of the tiny details just right.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Claire (Sozio) Cortese, who passed away on March 6, 2019; his parents, Sam and Mary (Caroppoli) Cortese; his sisters and brothers-in-law, Rose and Paul Davis and Mary Louise and Edward Stulock and his niece, Mary Hart.
Joe leaves behind his daughter, Juliann Cortese (John Campana) of Tallahassee, Florida; cherished grandchildren, Joelie and Jace Campana of Tallahassee, Florida; sister-in-law, Noreen Sozio (Hal Matthews) of Denver, Colorado; niece, Christina Sozio Blanch of Denver, Colorado; nephews and their wives (who he was as close to as sons and daughters), Daniel and Cheryl Clark, of Green Valley, Arizona and Samuel and Donna Davis of Canfield, Ohio; nephews, Paul Davis, James Joseph Davis, Eddie Stulock and Jim Hart and several great-nieces and nephews.
No funeral arrangements have been made at this time.
Joe will be laid to rest at Crown Hill Burial Park in Vienna, Ohio, at a later date.
Those wishing to honor Joe may consider having a Mass said for him at their local church or donating to their favorite charity in his name.
Arrangements handled by Culley’s MeadowWood Funeral Home in Tallahassee, Florida.
A television tribute will air Wednesday, April 15, at the following approximate times: 6:43 a.m. WYTV, 9:32 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV.