Joseph A. DeFranzo, age 90 of Salem, beloved husband of Grace (Puleo) DeFranzo passed away on Sunday, March 5, 2023, after a brief illness. Born on January 9, 1933, son of the late Frank Vozzella and late Mary (Coviello) Vozzella DeFranzo and the late William DeFranzo. He was born and raised in Boston’s North End and was subsequently educated in the Lynn public schools. One day when he stopped at Puleo’s Dairy Bar for an ice cream, it was then that he met Grace Puleo who would become his dear wife of 68 years. In 1951 he enlisted in the Navy and proudly served on the USS Shenandoah during the Korean War. Upon his honorable discharge in 1953, he was employed as the plant manager at Puleo’s Dairy in Salem. He was also known to countless North Shore families as their faithful milkman who delivered their milk before daybreak.
Later in life, he became one of the top financial advisors for Knights of Columbus Life Insurance. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, more specifically the Saugus Council #1829 for over 65 years. He was a pillar of the K of C community as a Past Grand Knight, he served as a Fourth Degree Knight and Past Faithful Navigator of the John F. Kennedy Assembly. He was also the long-time president of the Building Association and was the Financial Secretary for 25 years. He was very involved in fund raising, and for numerous years he ran the Tootsie Roll Drive Campaign for People with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities. Weekly Tuesday evening meetings were a mix of business and friendship. The men prepared a big Italian meal, tended to council business matters, and ended the night with a poker game and an occasional cigar.
Joe was ready to help anyone at any moment. He frequently donated blood at the Red Cross knowing that his rare blood type would help many in need. He was a member of the Staff Sergeant Arthur F DeFranzo Post VFW in Saugus.
Joe had a devilish sense of humor, often teasing at the opportune moment. He had an impeccable memory sharing many stories about his time in the North End, the many people he met on his milk route, his brothers on his naval ship, family and just about everything in between. He was very proud of his Italian heritage and loved cooking the recipes that his grandmother taught him many years ago. In his younger days he enjoyed fishing, bowling, ballroom dancing and later grew to love the game of golf. He had a passion for caring for his beautiful lawn and his prolific vegetable garden. Joe and Grace looked forward to the sunshine and ocean waves of his yearly vacations on Cape Cod and Fort Myers Beach as well as trips to Aruba with their friends. He loved spending time with his grandchildren whether it was babysitting or trips to the Salem Willows. It kept him young and on his toes.
He is survived by his daughters Debra Orloff and her husband Gary of Swampscott, Sharon Cody of Danvers, Brenda Schutz and her husband Adam of West Newbury and son-in-law Michael Cooney of Amesbury. His eight grandchildren Danielle (Orloff) Bettano and husband Nick, Stephanie Orloff, Michele Cody, Alexander Cody, Ryan Cooney, and Erin (Cooney) Davis and husband Tom, Isabel Schutz, Oliver Schutz and one great granddaughter, Sophia Bettano. He was the only brother to the late Rosemarie DeFranzo of Lynn. He was preceded in death by his two beautiful daughters Jody Michele DeFranzo and Maureen Beth (DeFranzo) Cooney with which he will be eternally reunited.
Visiting Hours will be at Murphy Funeral home, 85 Federal Street, Salem, MA on Friday, March 10th from 4pm-7pm. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 11th at Murphy’s Funeral Home at 10am. Memorial donations can be made in his memory to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923 or to the Veterans Association Bedford Healthcare System, CDCE (135), 200 Springs Rd, Bedford, MA 01730. For more information or online guestbook, please visit www.murphyfuneralhome.com.