Joe Palmisano was truly one of a kind. Sadly, in August he was called home to God at the terribly young age of 65. So, as the angels in heaven are getting used to replacing their Latin with his French, let us pause for a few moments to remember a special friend and thank God for the gift he was in our lives.
First of all, Joe was a gifted and giving teacher. When you stop to do the math, he was not much older than we were when he graced the Latin School's classrooms attempting to teach us French nearly forty years ago. In the words of the great Bard in Antony and Cleopatra, Joe knew us in our "salad days, when we were green in judgment." In truth, he was almost as green as we were! But did that deter him? Oh, no. Himself only a few years out of college, he endured our pranks and our boyhood indiscretions with an admirable blend of humor and discipline that somehow worked. Mon Dieu, did we not learn French! Mais, oui! Absolument!
Joe Palmisano cared about us. He knew when to push and when to ease off. He took us and our study of French seriously, but never too seriously! He was always one with a word of encouragement. And he always, always kept his good humor and humility.
Joe taught at the Latin School for five years. Subsequently he became a counselor in the Shaler Area School District and stayed there until his retirement in 1995. During his career he was recognized by his peers by being elected as president of the Allegheny County Counselors Association.
Joe was a devout Catholic layman. He happily taught us because he wanted to support the education of future priests. And throughout the remainder of his life he continued to pray for and support vocations as an active member of the Serra Club and the Knights of Columbus, and as a loyal associate member of the Bishop's Latin School Alumni Association. Joe was also an active participant and frequent volunteer at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat House on the slopes of the South Side.
At his wake I was privileged to covey the condolences and prayers of a grateful BLS Alumni Association to Mrs. Palmisano, his dear mother, and to his special friend of many years, Nancy. Joe's Serra Club and K of C buddies all came and prayed with us that night for God to welcome Joe home with all the fanfare and jubilation he so richly deserved.
One very happy memory - of many - we shared that night was of Nancy proudly joining us last April when Joe received the Cardinal John Wright Founder's Award at our BLS Vocations mass and banquet. That award meant everything to Joe, she told me, because it came from "his boys." And so, on behalf of those "boys", Joe, who are now a little heavier and a little grayer than we were forty years ago,
Bon soir, Monsieur Palmisano. Au revoir, et merci beaucoup!