Joe Perricone

Joe Perricone

A long-time parishioner passed away June 18, 2020. Joe Perricone, 96, was a fixture at our Saturday evening Masses for many years, acting as a greeter and usher. He had a warm, kind heart and will be sorely missed. His wife, Hope, also a part of our Saturday night Mass, passed away just 3 months ago.

AARP featured an article on him a year ago (July 2019), when he finally graduated from high school: Instead of participating in his high school graduation in the spring of 1943, teenager, Joe Perricone, was training to serve as a combat engineer in World War II.

The article said, “Now, 76 years later, Perricone has formally accepted his diploma. The U.S. Army veteran joined the Hillsborough High School’s Class of 2019 in Tampa, Fla., this past spring for pomp and circumstance he sorely missed.” “The draft board said ‘you go and serve your country and be a big boy’,” said Perricone. The 95-year-old never got a chance to walk the stage in 1943 and grab that diploma–instead, he left to fight for his country.

“I never thought it would happen,” says Perricone, 95. “I was inducted into the Army February of my senior year. My high school diploma was mailed to my mother. I missed graduating… It was a great experience to finally get to walk across the stage.”

Perricone’s grandson, Circuit Court judge, Thomas Palermo, 43, secretly arranged to surprise his grandfather by arranging his participation in the ceremony. “A lot of people worked together to surprise me to make it happen,” Perricone says. Sometimes, you make the things you want [to] happen by doing them yourself. Sometimes, it is through the love of others. Either way, now is the time if you have a goal or dream.” During the ceremony, the graduate refused to use a walker and was helped by Palermo, who said his “Nano” was “like a rock star”.

“I served through France, Belgium, and Germany during the war and after it, as part of the occupation of Germany,” he said. “My unit was preparing for and going to be sent to the Pacific but, because of Japan’s surrender, we stayed in Europe.

Perricone Wedding, 1947

“Through my entire service, I carried with me a handkerchief given to me by the love of my life, Hope. We married in 1947 and have now been married for 72 years,” he said.

Upon returning to the U.S., Perricone took art classes, co-owned a Phillips 66 gas station, and raised a family with his wife.

“I’ve always believed in doing my best plus 10 percent. It’s how I’ve tried to live my life. There are a lot of things I never thought I would get to do that I did, but graduation was certainly one I won’t forget,” he says. “There were no other 95-year-olds graduating with the Class of 2019.”

Joe passed away June 18, 2020 and is survived by his son, Joe C. Perricone (Debbie); daughters, Dolores Perricone and Delia Palermo (Peter), and his loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Due to COVID19, a service will be scheduled at a later date.

Perricone Family