Rarely, however, was Joe able to be defined by a single activity. In addition to his employment at Fenton Shoe, Joe found time to open a shoe store in Bradford and built Haverhill’s first skate board park, The Wooden Wave. After retiring from Fenton Shoe, Joe continued his craft in a shoe business he co-owned, Jo-Lee Last Co. in Manchester, NH. Later in life he established Occasion Shoes, a business he operated from his home in Bradford. Specializing in the design and fabrication of Pageant footwear, Joe’s creations were featured in the movie Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock. Always the skilled shoe designer, he designed and custom-made shoes for his granddaughters, as he had for his wife and many friends over the years.
And always there was his music. Joe began his musical career performing as a teenager with his two brothers and mother, all talented musicians in their own right. Over the years he would play countless nightclubs, shows, concerts, events, and functions. His passion was jazz, but as a well-schooled drummer, his versatility was his calling card. Of his many musical experiences, perhaps one of the most special was his time spent travelling throughout New England with The Four Sharps, a jazz quartet that included his close friends and fellow Haverhill natives Paul Abbondanza, Dante Ippolito, and Joe Azzarito.
Above all else, however, there was his family. Joe loved his wife and was devoted to his children, living to see each reflect different parts of his diverse personality and many talents. To his grandchildren, he was “Pupa,” and over the years he proudly watched them play sports, perform on stage, receive degrees and establish families of their own. A favorite gathering place for the whole family was the beach cottage in Salisbury he and Connie purchased in the 1960’s. Named “Cheerio,” it was for Joe a constant work-in-progress, always providing him the opportunity to work on the many “projects” that gave him such pleasure.