Joseph L. Castagna

(November 12, 1945 - June 13, 2014) L. Castagna, age 68—a swift destroyer of crosswords, a ready thrower of nudges, and a rowdy but generally endearing occupant of any room—passed away Friday, June 13, 2014.

Born in Darby, Pa., Joe was the second child and first son of Rose (DiVitis) and Bruno Castagna. No crib could contain the strong and clever infant; more than once did his parents awaken to find their babe in the open air, playing in the sandbox or communing with neighbors.

Joe grew up in picturesque Gradyville, where he attended the little grade school (now the local municipal building). He benefited from the school’s fine teachers, among them the Carr sisters and Dick Clark’s first wife, Barbara. His mother recalls one teacher’s baffled critique of her mischievous math wiz: “He constantly disturbs the class, but every paper he hands in receives a one-hundred.”

Upon graduation from Penncrest High School, Joe promptly enlisted in the Navy. He completed basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois. On two-week leave from Southeast Asia, he road-tripped through the American West with a fellow enlistee. Their rare interlude included a cherished visit to Grand Teton National Park. Joe served with distinction as an electronics technician from 1965-1968; he earned the Air Medal for meritorious service in combat. Initially a B-52 crewman, he later served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, from which he flew with the “Hurricane Hunters.” He survived additional perils during his Naval tenure—from a motorcycle crash in Guam to a hospitalizing tarantula bite.

Following military service, Joe worked for the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, later Verizon, as a special service installer and repairman. A rambler and a raconteur, he treasured the opportunity to hit the road and meet clients, many of whom became friends. He routinely volunteered for emergency work in Pennsylvania and other states in the wake of storm damage. He retired in 2005.

Fast cars and fireworks enlivened much of Joe’s life (he moonlighted alongside many first-class pyrotechnicians). He enjoyed fishing in Delaware, watching history programs, and playing poker with friends at the Riddle Ale House. He favored the expression “chill out”—an expression he used freely and thoughtfully down to his last days.

Joseph Castagna was preceded in death by his father, Bruno Castagna. He is survived by his loving wife, Lois, their son Keith Castagna, grandson Vinni, mother Rose Castagna, sister Elaine Castagna, and younger brother Robert Castagna.

The family offers special thanks to the staff of Riddle Hospital, whose care and compassion brought peace to family and patient alike.

Arrangements are by Marvil Funeral Home, Darby.  Condolences may be made online at