Joseph "Joe" Dess, 97, of Bristol, CT, passed away peacefully on Sunday May 8, 2022, surrounded by his loving family.
Born on December 5, 1924 to the late Joseph Dess and Sophie (Rusnica) Dess, Joe was part of the Greatest Generation – and deservedly so. Not only did Joe serve in the United States Army as well as work at the Barnes Group for 48 years, where he ultimately worked as an Estimating Engineer, but Joe was a devoted son, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, who modeled to those around him such virtues as selflessness, generosity, patience, and conscientiousness.
Joe grew up in Scalp Level, Pennsylvania with other coal mining families, where he attended Windber High School. Joe moved with his family to Bristol, Connecticut in 1942, and later attended Hillyer College (now the University of Hartford). He met the love of his life, the late Ann (Kratka) Dess, at a Lake Compounce dance in 1950; they were married for 42 years. Over the years, Joe could be found attending mass at Saint Gregory the Great Parish in Bristol, serving as a Cub Scout leader and as President of the Industrial Management Club of the YMCA, taking public speaking classes, bowling in the Barnes’ league, running road races, maintaining a healthy diet, helping his mother and his sister, playing golf with his brother and many others, tinkering on his car, spending time with his neighbors, playing pool with whoever was brave enough to challenge him, watching Jeopardy, listening to broadcasts of New York Yankees games, and taking care of his grandchildren Erik and Gregory every day after school.
Joe was the ultimate role model and pillar of support. He was not materialistic or covetous. Rather than take the spotlight, he took joy in others’ accomplishments. His humility, modesty, and strong sense of ethics were inspiring. Though it’s impossible to communicate how deeply Joe impacted the lives of those around him, we offer a few of his more favorite sayings he taught others to live by, such as “If you’re going to do something, do it correctly,” “Keep smiling,” “Do what you think is right,” and “I knew you could do it.” It is always difficult to say goodbye to a loved one, but we take solace in knowing that Joe lives on in his family, who would not be where they are, much less who they are, without him.
Joe was predeceased by his siblings Frank Dess, Jane Boudreau and John Dess, and he leaves behind many loving family members, including his children, David Dess, Robert Dess, and Marianne Dess-Santoro; his daughters-in-law, Thelma Dess and Kathleen Dess; his son-in-law, Glenn Santoro; his grandchildren, Brandon Dess, Melissa Kirby, Erik Santoro, Gregory Santoro, Gabriella Dess, Alina Dess, Alexis Dess and Meghan Dess; his great-granddaughters, Madeleine Kirby and Emma Kirby; his grandson-in-law, Edward Kirby; his sister-in-law, May Ann Dess; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
On May 11, 2022, there was a celebration of Joe’s life, which included a service at O’Brien Funeral Home, a mass at Saint Gregory the Great Parish officiated by Pastor John Dietrich, and a burial with full military honors at Saint Joseph Cemetery in Bristol, CT.
We thank the Newington Veterans Administration Medical Center for providing outstanding medical care.
Joe spent his life helping those in need around him. To honor his memory, we ask you to lend a helping hand to someone in need around you.