San Jose, California
June 6, 1923 – October 19, 2019
Our beloved father, grandfather and brother passed away peacefully with family at his side on October 19th, at the age of 96. A resident of San Jose since December 1951, Joseph immigrated to California from his native Sicily, becoming a naturalized American citizen in February 1955. He leaves his children: Nicholas (Cindy) Buttitta, Marie (Wharton) McDaniel, and Nicole (Fred) Reid; his grandchildren: Joseph (Kathy) Buttitta, Rachel (Wes) Gillman, Christopher Carey, Patrick Carey, Mark G. (Summer) Carey, Zachary Zimmerman, Scott Zimmerman, and Molly Zimmerman; His sisters: Giuseppina (Domenico) Buttafuoco and Maria (Nino) Raccuglia. Ann Buttitta, his wife of 64 years predeceased him in 2014.
Known by the Sicilian names: “Giuseppe” and “Nonnu” by family and by the nickname “Pepino” by his beloved wife, he was known by all as a gifted landscape gardener who, along with his son, created and tended the home and commercial gardens of many of the area’s prominent citizens. He was a passionate fisherman who fished the waters off the coasts of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Mexico. He often landed the largest and most prized catches, winning jackpots and drawing praise for his prowess and strength. He hunted game birds in California and Oregon, bringing them home to his wife who created delicious meals from recipes she learned from her Sicilian mother. Throughout his life he loved to sing the lovely arias of Italian lyric opera and the Italian folksongs popular in his youth. He revered the voices of Caruso and Pavarotti. At his 95th birthday celebration he regaled family and friends with a powerful rendition of “Torna a Sorrento.” During his last few months, he enjoyed and found comfort in listening to both artists while looking out his living room window at his verdant garden.
Neighbors will remember him leaning on his garden hoe, holding court on summer evenings and cultivating his prolific vegetable garden. He generously offered the fruits of his labor to all who stopped by to say hello.
His family will remember him as a man who was fiercely dedicated to them, immensely strong, relentless in his pursuit of life and unmovable in his resolve. His powerful work ethic, passion and love, with just a wink of mischief, will never be forgotten by those who knew him. He will never be far from his family’s thoughts.