Joseph ‘Joe’ Michael Pagano

July 19, 1920 – May 24, 2014

Joseph “Joe” Michael Pagano, a longtime Waukesha resident, died on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at his home surrounded by his loving family at the age of 93. He was born in Marblehead on July 19, 1920, the son of Calogero and Catherine (nee Maurello) Pagano and moved to Waukesha in 1927.

Joe started his working career by delivering the Waukesha Freeman during the Depression to earn money toward his boyhood dream of flying. During that boyhood in the early 1930s, Joe saved up 25 cents from his paper route to go flying and walked from his home on East Main Street to the Waukesha airport. Unfortunately, the cost of an airplane ride then was 50 cents. The pilot, noticing this forlorn young teen, asks what his problem is. Joe explains that he only has a quarter and the ride is 50 cents. The pilot, Dean Crites, says, “Kid, get in the plane.” That was the start of a lifelong friendship with Dean and Dale Crites and flying. For the rest of his life, Joe loved flying and spent much of his free time in the air and rebuilding old planes with the Crites brothers and other friends.

On April 18, 1953, he married Elaine DeBack at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waukesha. Not long after that, Joe settled into a job at the Waukesha Water Utility, where he stayed until he retired in 1985 as a meter repairman. Joe’s retirement coincided quite nicely with the well spaced arrival of his four grandchildren. Grandpa Joe became the fulltime day care while Mom and Dad went off to work. It could not possibly have been any better for the kids or for Grandpa (or for Mom and Dad!). This is how it was for the last 29 years.

Joe loved gardening and was schooled well in the art by his father. Last year, at age 92, Grandpa was very proud of his crop of tomatoes. Grandpa had a kind word and a smile for every single person he ever met. That is how he will be remembered. He was a man of many skills with his hands – whether gardening, roofing a house, putting siding on, building a door, repairing a sump pump – and an equal number of skills with his heart – teaching patience, acceptance and love. Joe loved everyone. His greatest joy was his grandchildren and his family and he will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and beloved friend to all.

He will be sadly missed by his loving wife of 61 years, Elaine of Waukesha; his daughter Sharon (Mark) Bernicky of Waukesha; his four precious grandchildren, Nicholas Faby and Allie, Jamison and Megan Bernicky, all of Waukesha; and one great-grandson, Giovanni Pagano. He is further survived by his brother Leonard (Lorraine) Pagano of Georgia, along with nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his brothers Calogero “Kelly” and Victor “Vic” Pagano; sisters Rose Pagano and Annie Biscuso; and his parents.

He was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church.

A special thank you in the last couple of weeks to Amy, Anna and Kathleen and several others at Hospice Advantage for helping care for Joe at his home and doing so with such compassion.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, May 28, from 4:00PM until the time of the 7:00PM funeral service at the Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral Home, 1110 S. Grand Ave., Waukesha. Father Howard Haase will preside. Graveside services will take place at 11:00AM on Thursday, May 29, at St. Joseph Cemetery. Please meet at the cemetery.

Memorials are appreciated to St. Mary Catholic Church, 225 S. Hartwell Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186; or to the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, 1301 Sentry Drive, Waukesha, WI 53186.

Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral Home, Crematory and Preplanning Services is honored to serve the family. For further information, please call the funeral home at 547-4035 or visit our website at www.waukeshafunerals.com for directions or to leave an online tribute message.