I am saddened by the passing of a good friend and mentor. We did great things with the Congress years ago and he encouraged me just this year to get back involved. Joe confided in me and I’ve known about his illness since being reinstated as President. We will keep you informed of the funeral arrangements and will ask the Italian paper to run a piece on him as well. Please keep Joe and his family in your prayers. (Maria De Siena Marano)
Giuseppe (Joe) Iafrancesco was born in Sepino, Italy, March 19, 1947 and passed away in Kelowna, BC on November 2, 2018. Always optimistic and hopeful, Joe fought lung cancer until his final moments.
Joe’s early years in Italy were spent on his family’s farm. In 1963, he immigrated to Canada with the belief that anything is achievable with hard work, dedication and a vision. His determination allowed him to pursue his high school education and the Canadian dream.
At the young age of sixteen, Joe began this dream with a weekend shoe-shine business. This was followed with a janitorial service in Kelowna and then 30 years of employment with Canadian Pacific Railway as a Conductor/Brakeman with both the running trades and VIA rail. During this time, he met and married his love and lifetime partner, Bianca Russo. The two were married in Kelowna on May 22, 1976. Throughout their years together, he and Bianca invested and managed their commercial and residential properties along with enjoying their hobby farm.
Joe was a very social person who made connections wherever he went and with whomever he met. He was always open to new ideas and friendships and was the first to organize and volunteer his time. He organized various charity golf tournaments and spearheaded several fund-raising efforts for earthquake relief. Joe even put forth his name in municipal politics when he ran for Kelowna City Council in 1999, 2002 and 2005.
He retired in 1997 to enjoy more golf and travel, vintage cars, their hobby farm and his passion of service to the community. Joe volunteered for many services including The Kelowna Canadian Italian Club (serving as president for many years), Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, National Congress of Italian Canadians, Folkfest, Uptown Rutland Business Association, Downtown Kelowna Association, Central OK Crime Stoppers, Lions Club as well as many other volunteer organizations. He was also involved with fundraising for the Italian wing of the National Museum of Civilization (Ottawa) and the 2001 opening of Pier 21 (Halifax). His recognition awards were many and include the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Finalist for the City of Kelowna’s Fred Macklin Award (1989 and 2000) and the Central OK Crime Stoppers Volunteer of the Year Award (1998). His appreciation awards included the Ben Lee Park Society and the Multicultural Society.
He is survived by his loving wife, Bianca, sister Vitangela Cusanelli, mother-in-law Armerinda Russo, sisters-in-law Lucy Litz (Rudy), Florinda Salas (Israel), Rita Witzke (Kevin), Erminia Thorpe (Noel), brothers-in-law Frank Russo (Valita), Tim Russo (Carolyn) and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents Pasquale and Vittoria Iafrancesco, brother Giovanni Iafrancesco, brother-in-law Gabriele Cusanelli and father-in-law Amedeo Russo.
Joe touched many lives and will continue to do so with his very substantial donations to the KGH Cancer Care fund and to JoeAnna’s House.
Prayers will be held on Friday, November 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm and a Funeral Mass on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 11:00 am both at Immaculate Conception, 839 Sutherland Ave, Kelowna, BC. Entombment to follow at Lakeview Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 2850 Dry Valley Rd, Kelowna, BC.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Kelowna General Hospital Cancer Care Fund, www.kghfoundation.com/priority-need/cancer-care, JoeAnna’s House, www.kghfoundation.com/joeannas-house, Kelowna Canadian Italian Club, www.kelownaitalianclub.com, or a charity of your choice. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.springfieldfuneralhome.com.