Yesterday I was saddened to read about the death of Mick Swannell, and I hope you will take few minutes to read the article that John Winter did about Mick a year ago. A tough assignment but one John handled with grace and professionalism.
Sadly this morning I learned that my good friend, my old detecting partner, the man who sold me my first detector, Joe Attinello, passed away Sunday. I received the following memorial tribute from his son Ron.
Joeseph Attinello of Milford, NJ, died Sunday, March 3, 2013 at the age of 90. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Irene.
Born in 1922 in Phillipsburg, NJ, this “average” Joe, led a spectacularly average American life. As a teen, worthy of a scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, he saved the life of his drowning younger brother Tom, reaching down in the cold quarry water with his last bit of air, to find a curly mop of hair with his fingertips.
A first-generation Italian American, he graduated Phillipsburg high school and immediately joined the army. He naively thought he would get his wish to be stationed in Hawaii where a friend had been stationed a year earlier. But instead found himself on a ship to Africa, Italy and finally Normandy where he landed in the first wave on D-Day with the US Army’s first infantry. He then crawled across France and Belgium to the Battle of the Bulge and finally Germany.
His service was nearly cut short when fever struck in the fall of 1944. Fearing he would be treated with sulfa in the military hospital, which he had almost died from as a child, he got himself dressed and walked out into the streets of Liege. He was spotted by a young girl who took him home to her mother who over a period of two weeks, nursed him back to health.
But this war story did not end for another 40 years, when letters were discovered in his sister’s attic from the Belgian girl’s mother to his mother…
They were replies to the letters of thanks his mother had written. He wrote to Liege, expecting the girl’s mother would likely be deceased, but hoped to find the daughter. The girl, now in her 50’s was still there and remembered him. A year later she traveled to America and visited Joe and Irene at their home in Milford.
After an honorable discharge from the army, he began his periodic but futile struggle to leave New Jersey. He spent a year in northern California. But returning for Christmas ruined any chance of making California permanent.
In what might be called a “stakeout”, he waited at a dance hall in Easton to get a look at a friend of his youngest brother’s girlfriend. She had refused to go on a blind date with him, but he learned where she went on Saturday nights and so he waited. They were married a year later.
Together he and Irene opened a “soda fountain” in Phillipsburg, serving ice cream sodas to teenagers until their first son, Ronald was 2 years old. Joe had studied photography and thought of opening a studio, but with their second son, Robert, on the way a steady income was becoming more important. Later a friend led him to a job in the insurance business where he worked for over twenty years.
Charles was their third son. When their daughter Ann was born, a larger house was needed. By this time they were doing well enough to spend the outrageous sum of $21,000.00 on a house in Milford. He went from insurance, to excavation, to chimney sweep, to security guard and maintenance until he reached retirement.
His interests seemed never to be satisfied. He loved fly fishing as a young man and metal detecting as he neared retirement. Whatever he did, he did it with enthusiasm…..
The most important thing in his life was his family. He always urged his children to do the best they could do at whatever it was they chose to do…
Besides his wife, he left behind his three sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Rest in peace Joe. You were one of a kind, and a true friend.