Joe Di Re

June 7, 1935 ~ April 28, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old


Joe Di Re

June 7, 1935 - April 28, 2023

Joe (Giuseppe) Di Re was born in the small farming village of Cantalupo, Italy on June 7, 1935 to parents Sabatino and Maria (Peccia) Di Re. He was the youngest of 6 siblings (Alessandro, Vincenzo, Filomena, Anna, and Raffaele). He immigrated to America in 1955 at age 20 with not much more than a sixth-grade education and a very strong will aimed toward achieving the American dream.

His first job landed him in Anaconda, Montana where he labored in a hot copper smelter and on the railroad. Joe knew he had to get to Tacoma to be with Addolorata (Dorothy) Martelli—an absolute gem of a lady from his home town who became his loving wife and perfect partner of 63 years.

Arriving in Tacoma, Joe set his mind to work, taking on anything he could despite speaking very little English. On one occasion, he approached a foreman at a construction site and asked if he had any work for him, then single-handedly proceeded to hand dig a deep, long trench with such grit and speed that he was hired on the spot. He had a motor that few could imagine and an eagerness to learn. Through Tacoma Vocational-Technical Institute he became a journeyman carpenter. He worked in construction for 13 years, transitioning to the Port of Tacoma where he remained for 21 years before retiring from his day job in 1992.

Joe was a carpenter by day and a student at night earning his high school diploma
through an evening program at Lincoln High School in 1964 at the age of 28. This was a source of great pride for Joe. He and Dorothy also studied for and successfully became US citizens in 1962. He valued education immensely and passed his ambition on to his four children who he generously led to successful careers in engineering, law, medicine, and public health. Each of his 10 grandchildren have also attended college and are on their way to successful careers in their own rite stemming from the strong foundation Joe built.

Despite their humble beginnings, while raising four children and working full-time jobs, Joe and Dorothy remarkably built a successful real estate business together. In this venture Joe taught himself additional skills including plumbing, electrical, roofing, and more spending countless hours managing his rental properties with a hands-on approach. While doing this, and also building their family home himself, he was able to teach his children valuable lessons and skills of their own. Only after his beloved Dorothy passed away in 2021, when he was in his late 80s, did he finally begin to slow down.

Joe still found time to enjoy life especially with family. “Babbo,” as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren, was at the center of all family gatherings and celebrations. God blessed him with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren bringing him particular happiness. Playing cards, bocce, and bowling were some of his favorite activities. He was also an avid dancer, winemaker and enjoyed playing the accordion. He and Dorothy amassed numerous dear friends many within the Italian community in Tacoma.

Joe was preceded in death by his cherished wife Dorothy. He leaves behind 4 adult children: Sam (Connie), Maryann Philichi (Matt), Tony (Lori), and Christina Remmers (Todd) plus 10 grandchildren: Joseph (Meredith), Maria Wilson (Will), Gianna Martinez (Alexis), Mia Fehrenbach (James), Michael, Matthew, Lina, Peter, Nick, and Arianna, plus 5 great-grandchildren: Joelle, Conrad, Ella, Camila, and Andrew, and many nieces and nephews. His charismatic personality, ambition, work- ethic, extreme generosity, and family values live on through his family who will miss him dearly.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 11:00AM at the Bellarmine Preparatory School Chapel, 2300 S. Washington St., Tacoma, with reception to follow at the Connelly Campus Center on site. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Joe Di Re’s memory to Bellarmine Preparatory School or another educational institution of your choice.

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Funeral Service
May 6, 2023

11:00 AM
Bellarmine Preparatory School Chapel (Washington St, Tacoma, Connelly Campus Center)


Bellarmine Prep
2300 S. Washington St., Tacoma WA 98405


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