Joseph G. Tortora
1943 - 1945
My father, Joseph “Joe” Tortora was one of nine siblings born to Joseph and Anna
Tortora of Villa Avenue, Graniteville.
He settled in Port Richmond some years later. A veteran of WW II, he served as a
shipfitter in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945 in the South Pacific stationed aboard the U.S.S. Simpson. Two of his four brothers,
Anthony and Carmine, also served their country during this time.In 1933, Joseph organized a football team among his P.S. 22 schoolmates and persuaded a popular islander, Richard O’Conner, to coach them. So began the Granite Athletic Club located on Port Richmond Avenue, which to this day supports young Island athletes. Valedictorian of McKee High School’s Class of 1938, he formed the school’s very first student government, of which he was President.
In October of 1941, he married the love of his life, the former Vivian “Viv” Gesner of Mariners Harbor. Loving parents to their daughters: Jeanne, Joyce and JoAnn, they spent their life together in their home on Rainbow Avenue, and celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary there.
Prior to the war, and for a time after, Joseph worked for the former Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Mariners Harbor, and went on to work for 33 years with the New York City Transit Authority. He retired as a power cable foreman in 1982.
Following this, Joe customized a van and he and Viv visited almost every state in the Union! A proud American and loyal Staten Islander, he possessed an incredible appreciation of life. Although suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease toward the end of his life, his passion for
life, his kindness, and his community pride prevailed.
Purchasing Joe and Viv’s beloved Rainbow Avenue home sometime after their passing, his grandson, Kevin, proudly resides there today.
Sponsored by his only surviving daughter, JoAnn, her husband Kevin Codd,
and their children, Maura, Kevin and Joseph