Obituary of Joseph Andrew Merlino
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Joseph Andrew Merlino, of Burlington, passed away after an extended illness on Thursday, November 16, 2023. He was 84 years old.
Joe was the oldest of seven children born to John and Margaret Merlino of Woburn. He grew up in a house where the kitchen was the heart of the home, and food was the way everyone expressed their love, so it was only fitting that he worked at Star Market for almost 50 years -- including locations in Fenway (Boston), Woburn, and Belmont -- finally retiring in his early 70’s.
From his parents he learned the importance of family, hard work, and taking pride in whatever you do.
Joe enjoyed his work. He loved helping customers select just the right cut of meat for their special occasions and often commented that they would return the next week and tell him how much help he had been.
Work was a place where he met some of his best friends, and Star Market was a topic of continual conversation long after his retirement. He would often recount being snowed in it at the Fenway store during the Blizzard of 1978, making gourmet food and cooking using the store’s ovens while his family – stuck at home -- would await his daily check-in calls. Even from miles away, he made sure that someone took care of his family, plowed them out, and took care of their needs in his stead.
His perseverance and grit were on full display as he kept a full-time work schedule even while going through cancer treatments. It was just the way he was brought up: take care of your family, take pride in your work, be industrious, and always be grateful for what you have.
Joe spoke through his actions. He spent hours and hours maintaining his home and yard. He was a great help to his daughters when they became homeowners.
Joe enjoyed decorating through the change of seasons and every holiday. He gained great satisfaction when others took note and appreciated the fruits of his labor.
Joe was talented in the kitchen. His sauce, Easter Pie, braciola, sausage, peppers & and onions, and strawberry bomb cake were family favorites.
Joe met his wife, Donna, in a Minstrel Show in the early 1960s. Joe was in a “Bill Bailey” number while Donna was in the kick line. And while you might think that Joe was enamored with her legs, it was Donna who always said that “Joe had a good lookin’ leg.” Their first date was movie night where they saw Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” They were married in St. Charles Church in Woburn in June 1964.
They settled in their forever home in Burlington in 1969 before the birth of their second daughter, Diane. Joe joined the Knights of Columbus in Burlington, and those early years were full of neighborhood cookouts – especially after the 4th of July parade that Joe always hosted.
He was a faithful parishioner at St. Margaret’s Church in Burlington for decades, and when he couldn’t attend services in person, he always watched Catholic services on TV – sometimes twice in one day!
Joe was an avid Patriots fan, with most of his wardrobe demonstrating his enthusiasm. He eagerly awaited Sunday phone calls with his grandson and son-in-law recounting every play of the game.
He was a strong role model for his daughters who embody his grit, perseverance, and work ethic.
Joe was devoted to his mom and sisters, often stopping by for visits or to help with home projects. He looked forward to celebrating Christmases in North Carolina with his family. He was so happy to be a part of his grandchildren’s lives and to see them become successful adults.
Truly a “Regular Joe,” he will be remembered as a simple, hardworking, and honorable man. He wasn’t much for big speeches, but rather his acts of service and kindness were the ways he expressed his love for his family. He will be forever remembered in the hearts of those he loved and cared for.
Joe was the beloved husband of 59 years of Donna M. (Parton) Merlino. He was the loving father of Debbie Merlino of Pembroke and Diane Cadavid & and her husband Rafael of Cary, NC. He was the proud grandfather of Alyssa Marie Cadavid of Centennial, CO, and Alexander Joseph Cadavid of Charlotte, NC. He was the brother of Andrew “Butch” Merlino & his wife Betty of Reading, Joanne Merlino of Burlington, Jack Merlino & his wife Janet of Stoneham, Marie Petroni of Methuen & her late husband Richard, Giacomo Merlino of Florence, Italy & his late wife Barbara, and the late Margaret “Sis” Merlino of Woburn.
Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., Burlington on Tuesday, Nov. 21 from 10 to 11:30am, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Margaret Church in St. Veronica Parish, www.stveronicama.org, 111 Winn St., Burlington at noon. Services will conclude with a burial in Calvary Cemetery, Winchester.
Memorials in Joe’s name may be made to People Helping People, www.peoplehelpingpeopleinc.org, P.O. Box 343, Burlington, MA 01803.
For obituary online guestbook, livestream of funeral service, and video tribute see www.sullivanfuneralhome.net
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050