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Joseph (Joe) Pagnello passed away on January 5, 2024 at the age of 94 in the Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg.
Joe was born on March 2, 1929, to Guiseppe Pagnello and Lorenza (nee Guiggio) in Markham, Ontario. He was the tenth of eleven children growing up in a small two-bedroom house on a small market garden farm in Box Grove. He was predeceased by his parents and all of his siblings.
He is survived by the love of his life, Elaine Margaret (nee Rae) Pagnello whom he married on May 12, 1950. This year would have made it their 74th wedding anniversary. They started out with all of their belongings in the back seat and trunk of their car and lived in several places until they built on Andrew Avenue. They stayed there for close to 30 years and then moved to ‘The Land’ in Castleton where they stayed another 29 years. Together, they raised five children, Gayle, Rocci (Mary), Jamie, Jane, and Peter (Rose) who all survive and were able to be with him over his last days in hospital. Joe and Elaine had eleven grandchildren: Laura (Dale), Bradley (deceased), Paul (deceased), Natalie (Ron), Aimee (Taso), Brock, Katie (Ryan), Connie (Dylan), Adam, Meghan (Stephanie), and Bobbi Jo (Ken). They also have ten great-grandchildren: Ciara, Phoenix, William, Elianna, Joseph, Ashlyn, Emily, Matthew, Ella and Mia. His family was his pride and joy.
As a young teen, Joe worked for CPR on the laying and repairing of rail lines around the Port Hope area. After a brief stint at farming, he later went on to become an accomplished welder, working for Coulter Copper. He worked on the Molson vats in Montreal as one of his projects. He then went on to work at Johns Manville as a welder and then as a supervisor of all internal trades. He worked there for 19 years before the company was forced to close due to the exposure of several hundred employees to deadly asbestos dust. He then re-created himself to become successful in real estate before he and Elaine retired to Castleton.
Their dogs, (Toto, Minnie, Sasha & and Toto again) were either with him or on his mind all of the time, keeping him good company with their loyalty and playfulness. He loved being outdoors in a natural setting and enjoyed fishing, hunting and his veggie gardens. He oversaw the construction of the cedar log cabin at ‘The Land’ and it is still upright and stable some 45 years + later. His real hobby or passion was undoubtedly hockey. Like all Leaf fans, he was optimistic in the fall and disheartened in the spring. He first heard about hockey from the Leaf announcer on the radio at a neighbour’s home in Box Grove. While his family and siblings could not afford a radio or to play the game in a rink, his siblings spent a lot of time playing on the Rouge River with sticks made from bent branches and flattened horse balls for pucks.
While living at the end of Andrew Avenue, he requested (demanded) that the township construct an outdoor skating rink in the field beside our house. Gayle called this the first community outdoor skating park in Scarborough. He spent many frozen nights flooding the rink from the fire hydrant located on our front yard just so we, and dozens of kids in the area would have a chance to learn to skate and play hockey. He studied the game as a parent and ultimately managed hockey teams that Peter, Jamie and Rocci played on. He put together some very successful rag-tag teams that went on to win things like the THL/Metro championships against the best in the city as well as the International Richmond Hill, and Drummondville tournaments and the SHA.
Due to his age, most of his long-time friends and family are no longer with us. He remembered them all right to the end, including a teacher, Miss Miller who inspired him and supported him while he was at the one-room Box Grove school and even later as an adult.
Growing up in an immigrant family with 11 children during the Depression, he became very careful, maybe obsessed with finances, hoping to leave his family something when he left. One thing his family of origin gave him, however, was an incredible wit and sense of humour, often playing practical jokes on friends, family and foes alike. To the end, he was a fighter for the little guy, arguing for equality and fairness. His work on the railroad and later his work in the woods and the small farm in Castleton enabled him to stay physically strong into his 90s.
We all miss you, Dad. Several generations will always have some wonderful memories of you. A private family celebration will take place.
In the Spring, some of his ashes will be scattered in Castleton, the season and place he most enjoyed.
Donations in memory would be appreciated to any charity of your choice related to the preservation of nature, the care of animals or equality.
Rest in Peace, Dad.
Love, Your family.
My sincerest condolences to the Pagnello family.
Meghan always spoke so highly about Joe and reading all this is a nice small glimpse into his story. My condolences to the family and friends ❤️
I've heard a few stories of how great of a man Joe was from Meghan at work. This insight to his life was amazing to read and fits exactly with the person she made him out to be. A wonderful person with a beautiful soul. Condolences to all the family and friends 🙏
My Dear Elaine I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear husband Joe of 74 years. Thinking of you & sending love ❤️ and hugs 🫂 I hope that the warm memories you shared will put a smile on your face. 😃 Love, Shirley O'Brien 905 376 0231 Please say hello to you sister for me.
Dear Family I was sorry to hear of the death of Joe. What an interesting life he led. May your happy times and memories sustain you during this difficult time. Sue and Joe La Berge.
Joe will be greatly missed. We always enjoyed seeing Joe and Elaine and little Toto pulling up to Jane’s in their golf cart. Good for a laugh and a chat. Sorry for your loss Elaine and the entire Pagnello Family. ❤️
Elaine, Gayle, Rocci, Jamie, Jane, Peter and families. Your dad was one in a million and will be missed so much be all who knew him. The smell of a pipe always makes me think of uncle Joe. Sending love and hugs to all of you.
My Uncle Joe was an interesting character. I loved the smell of his pipe. My most notable memory is when I was a child and went to his place for dinner. The Leafs were playing Boston. My parents, Aunt Elaine & Uncle Joe were playing cards while us kids watched the hockey game. As Uncle Joe was an avid Leaf fan he missed seeing one of the momentous games in Leaf history. Darryl Sittler got 10 points that night, a record which still stands about 50 years later. I'm sure he would have preferred to watch the Leafs game but he was stuck playing cards in another room. Rest in Peace Uncle Joe.
To Pete and all of the Pagnello family, may I offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Joe. He was a decent, funny, caring man, and is a big part of the treasured memories I have of growing up on Andrew Avenue. To go through all of the times he made laugh, cry, and feel valued would take too long here, but know that he was a special man, and I am thankful for having known him. It was especially nice to see and talk with him for a short time while visiting my own father at the old house in his later years. Andrew Avenue was a special place to grow up, and he helped make it that way. Patrick W. Chessman
Dear Elaine & Family, We are sending our sincere condolences to you and all of Joe's loved ones ! We shared many good times with Joe and Elaine in Castleton. We too were recipients of his practical jokes! Lots of happy times together and fond memories to cherish forever. I am happy I got to visit Joe not long ago and it was remarkable just how great he looked that day ! Sending our love & prayers to all.
I would like to extend my condolences to your family. I had the privilege of meeting Joe at Extendi care, where I worked as a dietary Aid. After my shifts were over in the summer I would sit with him outside, where I got the privilege of getting to know Joe, and especially his dog Toto. At the end of the night he would always give me a big hug. I would always look forward to our next chat! I will always cherish our memories we had. Ashley Latchford
Sending our condolences. Thinking of you and all the good memories. The Rutherford Family
So sorry to hear that Joe passed, he was a longtime loyal customer to me and my parents. I always enjoyed chatting to Joe while he got his haircut. Always puffing on the cigar!!! Very nice man and sounds like he had a very full life. Karen Hadwen and John and Grace Wood
So sad to hear of the passing of Uncle Joe. Although we only had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions he was such a character who was able to tell us stories about his brother John my father which was such a joy being that we had lost him so early in our lives. He and Aunt Elaine made us so welcome when we came to visit and we all have fond memories that we still talk about such as riding in the back of his truck and shooting his air rifle. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this sad time. RIP Uncle Joe rest peacefully. Love from us all
A lovely Generous Christian Family, I have had the honour to be a small part. One of the nicest happening to me............was to find a basket of fresh tomatoes on my verandah. God Bless
Jane and Bobbi Jo was sorry to hear of your dad and grandfather passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you . Gladys, Mary-Ellen, Cecilia, Christopher and Jennifer.
My deepest condolences on your loss of this wonderful man.. may your memories give you comfort.