Obituary of Joseph Canestrari
“Joe, Dad, Bacaca.” Joseph James Canestrari, Sr., 67, of Satellite Beach, FL passed away Friday, February 24, 2023 at home surrounded by his loving family. Born February 9, 1956 in Naples, Italy to the late Gisto “Lee” and Mary (O’Brien) Canestrari, he was the fifth of seven children. Growing up in Danbury, CT, Joe loved being part of a big family and wide circle of friends. He graduated from Immaculate High School, where he played baseball and football.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Joe began military service in the United States Air Force by enlisting in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a B.S. in Physical Therapy. In 1978, he entered the USAF stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and, together with his new wife (and later four sons), started off on an honorable career. He went on to earn a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Future assignments included Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. His final assignment was at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado where he retired as a Lt. Colonel after 21 years of service to his country. One of his many awards included being appointed the Military Consultant for Physical Therapy to the USAF Surgeon General.
Never one to sit still, Joe next embarked on a civilian career in physical therapy. He began as a professor at South University in Savannah, GA and then as a clinician here in Florida (most notably Brevard County) where he treated hundreds of people as the head of several clinics, most recently at Health First Medical Group Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Viera. He also inspired all four of his sons to enter careers in the healthcare field. When he wasn’t serving his country or community, Joe enjoyed time with his beloved family. Weekends were filled with fishing, golfing and huge family gatherings. In his later years, he loved traveling to the Caribbean, Italy and Costa Rica in addition to different parts of the country in his RV. He also always found time for his New York teams—the Jets and the Yankees, which were enjoyed with Coors Light and peanuts. And, no matter where he was, a Bruce Springsteen song could often be heard in the background.
Joe is survived by his wife Pamela (Close) Canestrari; sons Joseph Canestrari, Jr. and wife Audra and children Joseph, Julia, Jace and Jackson; Lee Canestrari; Michael Canestrari; Matthew Canestrari and wife Hannah and son Finn; and step-daughter Katherine Starkey. He is predeceased by his first wife of 37 years Robin (Ehrhard) Canestrari (d. 2016).
He is survived by his brother Brian O’Brien of Matthews, NC; sister Linda Gover (and husband Donald) of Sandy Hook, CT; brother David Canestrari (and wife Kathleen) of Durham, CT; sister Mary Ann Simonelli (and husband Robert) of Bethel, CT; and many nephews, nieces and other family members who loved him dearly. He is predeceased by brothers Gary and Peter Canestrari.
A funeral mass and celebration of life will be held Saturday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 3780 S. Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial donations be made to United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida. UCPCFL.ORG. Thank you.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Canestrari, please visit Tribute Store