On January 9, 2021, it is with heavy hearts and great sadness we said goodbye to someone we truly loved. Joseph C. Stranieri passed away surrounded by his family and partner Charlotte MacDonald.
Joe was born April 3, 1938 to Katherine (Moreni) Stranieri-Gilbert and Joseph "Banjo" Stranieri. Joe was a Goosetown kid throughout his life. His father worked on the Smelter until unfortunately dying in 1947 when Joe was 9 years old. This made life difficult for Katherine, Joe and his younger sister Elizabeth Jean, known as Betty. However, throughout the struggles they maintained a strong family bond, which would welcome another sister Kathy (Gilbert) Hayden in 1957.
Joe attended parochial schools and graduated from Anaconda Central in 1956. He was an accomplished athlete, described as fast and agile on the football field, he played a strong role for teams which were coached by Jack Oberweiser, who would remain a friend his entire life. He was also involved with the Saint's basketball and baseball teams. Sports played a strong theme in his life. A life-long Yankees and Colts fan, games were never too far from his viewing pleasure. He was very proud of his grandson; Santino's back-to-back Oregon State Football Championship wins which he attended last year.
Joe would attend Carroll College briefly and participate in football. However, in his own words, he was not ready for college and dropped out to work on the Smelter briefly. This quickly gave him the motivation to attend college again and he landed at the University of Portland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He would become a teacher at Anaconda Jr. High, teaching 7th grade Science. Mr. Stranieri was well liked by his students and made his classroom enjoyable. You could chew gum, but if you popped it, it went on your nose for the remainder of class. Likewise, if you shot a basket with rolled up paper and missed, you sat in the garbage can until class ended. If a student happened to be struggling with reading, he would provide the questions orally and would also write difficult words phonetically on the chalkboard. Joe was respected by staff and administration throughout his years retiring in 1988.
While working his day job as a teacher, Joe became a business owner of the Locker Room Bar in 1980. He and two co-owners would split shifts during the week working the bar night shift. He remained involved in the bar business for nearly 35 years. He made many friends during his days as a bartender and could make a very good drink. His bar was always involved with the Wayne Estes Basketball and Goosetown Softball Tournaments along with hosting the St. Patrick's Day race.
On July 18,1964, Joe married Barbara (Berdie) LeBlanc. Their union produced two children: Gina and Nick. Nick fondly remembers trips to the Park Cafe, fishing the Big Hole and participating in sports with his Dad. Gina remembers being taught Italian to speak to Nonna, playing catch on the lawn, attending her games and teaching her boxing. Although his marriage ended, he and Berdie would remain friends his entire life.
In 1996, Joe and fellow classmate Charlotte MacDonald would reunite at their 40th class reunion and begin a relationship which would last 24 years. They enjoyed taking trips to Italy, Mexico and New York to see his beloved Yankees. They also spent time vacationing in California, Arizona and Oregon. Joe and Charlotte also continued their relationships with the Class of 1956. Joe played a vital role in helping organize reunions which were always full of laughter and good times. Charlotte aptly describes him as the kindest, most genuine gentleman she has ever known, which we all agree.
Joe is survived by his daughter Gina (Stranieri) Matosich; his son, Nick Stranieri, sister Kathy (Dave) Hayden, partner Charlotte MacDonald, grandchildren; Sofia and Santino Stranieri, Jillian and Sam Matosich. Nieces; Erika (Scott) Wigton, Kayla Hayden and Dee Dee Gilbert and nephews; Tim Hill and family and JD Gilbert. Brother in-law, Ray Hill and Sister in-law Donna Lee Gilbert. Very special people in his life were cousins Bob Ungaretti and Frank Moreni.
He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Betty and stepbrother Don Gilbert. The family is planning a Celebration of Life in the summer.
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