Joseph Minella, who educated thousands of Carmel School District children during his 34 year career, died February 26 at the age of 77 after losing a valiant fight against Parkinson’s disease.
Born on October 22, 1944 in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Minella attended the Milton Hershey School for Boys from age 4 through his high school graduation.
Following receiving a baccalaureate degree from Scranton University in Pennsylvania, Minella received a Master’s degree in Education from Fairfield University in Connecticut.
In 1966, Minella joined the Carmel School District family as a 3rd grade teacher at the Kent Elementary School before serving the majority of his 34 year career in Patterson, first at the former Patterson Grade School and later in 1971 when the Matthew Paterson Elementary School opened its doors instructing fourth graders.
On November 4, 1983, Minella married the love of his life, Anita, who stood by his side in sickness and in health, serving as his primary caregiver during the final difficult months of Minella’s life.
Survivors also include his extended family: Step-daughter Michele and son-in-law David Whybrow of London, England; step-daughter Kristina and soninlaw George Bory of Westport, Connecticut and his three cherished grandchildren Gustave, Micah and Evelyn Bory.
Brothers Ralph and Phil and a sister Patti Pish also survive.
Besides his educational career, Minella was a professional photographer often seen at local weddings and social events. He was a member of the NYS Professional Photography Association and co-founder of Cocktails at Your Place in-home catering service.
The avid Yankees fan loved reading especially biographies of famous Americans. He was a member of the Carmel Bowling Team, enjoyed playing cards and lavished at organizing retired teachers’ luncheons and social events. Minella was also a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church in Somers.
He and Anita were seen annually at Putnam Hospital Center Balls while frequently attending performances at Saratoga Center for the Performing Arts and Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass.
Minella was also known as an aficionado when it came to his dress, known for his crazy and artistic patterned socks as well as his velvet jackets, plaid and checkered trousers, variety of tuxedos, as well as an occasional top hat and even the wearing of a cape.
Charles Kendig, Minella’s former classmate at the Hershey School, recalled Minella as a “tremendous example of what Mr. and Mrs. Hershey intended their ‘boys to be’— upstanding citizens who made contributions to their community and those around them.”
Another former classmate, Ray Randlett, remembered Minella as a “lifer” since Joe attended the school from the age of four. “If you were ever back for our reunions, he took your picture. Joe will be missed,” said Randlett.
Mary Barrett worked sidebyside with Minella at the Matthew Paterson Elementary School for three decades: “Joe’s unique combination of professional knowledge, genuine concern for his students, and educational expertise was truly inspirational. I will always remember Joe’s genuinely warm and friendly demeanor along with his charming personality and beautiful smile. Joe was an amazing person who left everyone with many wonderful experiences and a wealth of special memories through the years.
Sally McCracken-Maertens met Minella for the initial time in 1967 when she began working for the Carmel School District: “We were both teaching in the Kent Elementary School and from there, went in different directions district-wide until we both ended up working together at the Matthew Paterson Elementary School, he as a fourth-grade teacher and I as the principal. No one will ever forget the great Jeopardy game that Joe made and used to teach geography, history and other subjects. His students loved it. I could always count on Joe to clean the teacher’s room about once a month as he didn’t like the mess we made. Joe was also a big part of the staff for all of the years that we had a residential experience for the fourth graders. He is fondly remembered and will always hold a special place in the hearts of so many students, faculty, staff and community members.”
The family has requested in lieu of flowers, donations in Minella’s name be sent to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.