OBITUARY

Joseph L. Romeo

October 16, 1923August 7, 2018
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Joseph L. Romeo, 94, of Las Vegas passed away August 7, 2018. He was born on October 16, 1923 to Santo and Serafina Romeo in New York City. Joe served in the US Armed Forces during WW II and was captured in the fall of 1944. He was held in various concentration camps in Limberg, Hammerstein and Rostock, Germany before being liberated in May of 1945. He was a wonderful and devoted husband to Theresa, whom he affectionately referred to as ‘Stan’ during their 73 year marriage. He was dedicated father of Joseph, the late Michael, and Philip, and father-in-law to Barbara, Michael and Linda. He is survived by his grandchildren Michael, Amber and Breanna, and great-grand children Isabella and Zoe. Joe is also survived by his loving nieces Josephine, Marilyn, Doreen and Nadine, and his nephew Anthony. Joe was a retired US Postal Service employee and also worked weekends as head maître d’ at a family-owned catering hall on Long Island. He spent his early retirement volunteering at the Veteran’s Hospital in NYC, working on behalf of other ex-POWs, before moving to Las Vegas in 2002. Visitation will be Tuesday, August 14 from 3-7 at Palms Southwest, 7979 Warm Springs Road. A mass will be held at 3 pm on Wednesday, August 15 at St. Joseph Husband of Mary Church and the burial will be at 10:40 am on Thursday, August 16 at the Southern Nevada Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Veteran’s Memorial Drive, Boulder City. Donations to the National Alzheimer’s Foundation are warmly appreciated.

Services

  • Visitation Tuesday, August 14, 2018
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, August 15, 2018
  • Graveside Service Thursday, August 16, 2018
REMEMBERING

Joseph L. Romeo

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Marie Maher

August 13, 2018

Thank you Phil, Stan, Michael and family for the loving memories I have of meals shared at your family’s table in Las Vegas. I recall times when Zee helped out with dinner, clearing and setting, remaining quiet for the most part, but taking everything in. Then he would depart to walk the dog, slipping quietly from the house. I loved seeing him with the dog, they were an amiable pair. I rather think the dog was the one in charge though. I’ll remember Zee as a kindly man with a certain impish twinkle. We may say farewell to Zee for now, but not to that twinkle just yet. You see, I know I’ll see that twinkle again and again. I’ll see it every time my dear friend looks my way; Philbert, you are unmistakeably your father’s son.

My sincere regrets that I cannot share some of this time with you. Your loving friend, Marie

Phil Romeo

August 10, 2018

(Continued from part 1)
In your later years you were content being surrounded by family, friends and simple pleasures like the comforts of home cooking or taking the sun in your garden. And while your interests over the past decade appeared to be simple, your path in early life was anything but. You deserved every one of those simple pleasures, those down to earth and uncomplicated moments. While the cruelest of all diseases robbed you of your memory, your agility and eventually, your dignity, it couldn’t possibly erase the selfless contribution that you made to mankind, doing your part to ensure our freedoms. Your place in the greatest generation is secured for all time.
Godspeed, ‘Zee’ – with all of our love.
Your son, Philip

Phil Romeo

August 10, 2018

Dear Dad,
Your struggle is over now and you can rest easy. Thank you for a lifetime of inspiration, encouragement and unconditional love. In your own humble and unassuming way you showed us the humility of a true hero. As a child I had little sense or awareness of your own journey. I had no idea that as a rifleman in the Armed Forces, you were captured in the fall of 1944. You were among a handful of solders that were taken prisoner when a grenade tossed by German soldiers into the basement you were hiding in failed to detonate. You were force marched and physically abused by your captors, who would hit you with a stick, a strap and their rifle butts, and encouraged others to pelt you with rocks as you marched. You were then herded into a locked, overcrowded cattle car, with little or no food, no water, and no provisions for sanitation. In October of that year you reached Stalag 12A in Limberg, Germany. After a month, you were transferred to Stalag 2B in Hammerstein, Germany, where you were held until January, 1945. On the 25th of January, you were dispatched with other POWs on a forced march out of Hammerstein in the snow, in the dead of night. You marched for weeks on end, exposed to the bitter snow and elements in one of Europe’s harshest winters on record, taking refuge at night in barns and other makeshift shelter. You marched through Stuggart, Stettin, Lubeck and Hamberg, before being marched back to Rostock, where you were finally liberated by the Russians on May 8, 1945. In civilian life, you found happiness with mom and started a family. You role modeled the strong work ethic that all three of your sons strived to emulate, working two jobs, seven days a week for many years. You seldom spoke of your war time experiences, but as you entered your sixties you found new purpose by volunteering at the Veterans Administration and being a member in several POW associations. (see part two)

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Joe at five on a rooftop above Manhattan

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Joe with his older brother, Sal

FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Joseph Louis Romeo was beloved by all, renowned for the ex-POW cap he always wore and the mischievous twinkle in his eye. Born on October 16, 1923 to Santo and Serafina Romeo, immigrants from Italy, he and his brothers Salvatore and Ben were raised in Lower Manhattan. Joe’s parents owned a small candy store, and as was common in the day, the family lived in the tenements over the store. As a young boy, he struggled with weight issues. Once while playing football in the street, the burly young man collided with a parked car. The car didn’t fare very well in the exchange. When Joe saw the huge dent in the auto and heard his friends laughing, he quickly feigned injury so it would appear that the car got the better of him.

As a young man he served as a rifleman in the US Armed Forces during WWII. He was captured somewhere in France in the fall of 1944, taken prisoner when a grenade tossed by German soldiers into the basement where he was hiding failed to detonate. He was force marched and physically abused by his captors, who would hit him with a stick, a strap and their rifle butts, while others pelted him with rocks as he marched. The prisoners were herded into a locked, overcrowded cattle car, with little or no food, no water, and no provisions for sanitation. In October of that year he reached Stalag 12A in Limberg, Germany. After a month, he was transferred to Stalag 2B in Hammerstein, Germany, where he was held until January 1945. On the 25th of January, he was dispatched with other POWs on a forced march out of Hammerstein in the snow in the dead of night. The men marched for weeks on end, exposed to the bitter snow and elements in one of Europe’s harshest winters on record, taking refuge at night in barns and other makeshift shelters. They marched through Stuggart, Stettin, Lubeck and Hamberg before being marched back to Rostock, where they were finally liberated by the Russians on May 8, 1945.

A fellow soldier that had befriended Joe introduced him to his sister-in-law, Theresa LaRussa. The couple fell in love and were married in the winter of 1946. Joe went to trade school to learn camera operations, as the television and broadcasting business was a booming industry in New York City. He later went to work for the US Postal Service, a job that he would hold for several decades. They raised three boys – Joseph, Michael, and Philip, and the family quickly outgrew their cramped Brooklyn apartment. Joe knew that his young family needed a larger home, but to realize his dream he understood that he would need to work a second job. Every weekend, for at least twenty years, he worked as the maître d’ at a large catering hall owned by Theresa’s cousins. He demonstrated a strong work ethic and passed this on to his sons, together with a “be of service” attitude and a sense for true hospitality. In his retirement, Joe and Theresa finally travelled through Europe and made visits to see their son Michael, daughter-in-law Barbara and their grandchildren in Alaska. Joe also devoted his retirement years to working on behalf of other ex-POWs by volunteering at the Veteran’s Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He and Theresa moved to Las Vegas in 2002 where he spent much of his time surrounded by family, friends and simple pleasures. He loved to bask in the sun in his garden, listen to popular songs of the 1940s and 1950s and partake in “a piece of cake and coffee” with anyone who should drop by.

Those in his family and anyone close to Joe knew that he had his own affectionate language that he had developed over the years. He would often insert the letter “R” in front of words to give them a touch of whimsy. He was quick to point out that he was born on “Roctober 16th” or that his favorite dessert was “rapple pie.” Everyone near and dear to him also earned a nickname. His son Joseph became Joe-Bee-Boy. Michael was known as Michael-loo-babe, and Philip was Philip me Boise. His wife Theresa was belovedly known as “Stan” throughout their 73 year marriage. And Joe became known to all as Bones, in recognition of impressive talent for methodically cleaning meat off any bone (archaeologists could only hope to find artifacts as pristine!) Over time, Bones became Bonezee, and eventually this was shortened to just “Zee.”

Indeed, Joe was a man whose early adult years were complicated by the events of a World War and America’s struggle for freedom. It is entirely fitting that his later life was filled with simple pleasures, down to earth experiences and uncomplicated moments. Like all his fellow brothers in arms, we are forever indebted to them for the liberties we enjoy, and all too often take for granted today. Joe truly earned the distinction of belonging to the greatest generation.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Santo and Serafina, his brothers, Salvatore and Benny, and his son, Michael. In addition to his wife, Theresa, and his sons, Joseph and Philip, he is survived by his son-in-law, Michael; daughters-in-law, Barbara and Linda; grandchildren, Michael, Amber and Breanna; and great-grandchildren, Isabella and Zoe. Joe is also survived by his loving nieces Josephine, Marilyn, Doreen and Nadine, and his nephew Anthony. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, August 14th from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Palm Southwest Mortuary, 7979 W. Warm Springs Road. A mass will be held at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, August 15th at St. Joseph Husband of Mary Church, and the burial will be at 10:40 AM on Thursday, August 16th at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Veteran’s Memorial Drive, Boulder City. Donations to the National Alzheimer’s Foundation are warmly appreciated.