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Thursday February 20th, 2020

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St. Paul Catholic Church
Friday February 21st, 2020

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Joseph Francis Balsamo

SUFFOLK- Joseph Francis Balsamo age 68, died at his home the morning of February 18, 2020.  Joe, a Portsmouth native, was the son of the late Lawrence Joseph Balsamo and Anna Marie Alianello.

Joe is survived by his wife of twenty years, Mary Frances Cogliandro Balsamo; his sons David C. Balsamo (Leigh-Anne) and Joseph A. Balsamo (Stephanie); his grandchildren: Michah, Sasha, Hope and Bella; his sister Ann Balsamo Dwyer (Ham); his brother Lawrence C. Balsamo (Karen); and nieces and nephews, as well as many relatives by marriage.

Joe was a Pipefitter supervisor at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Shop 56) and retired in 2014 from there with 38 years of service. He received an Associate Degree in Police Science from Tidewater Community College. Joe was a member of Portsmouth Council 418 – Knights of Columbus.   He was a naval veteran.

Joe’s hobbies include spending time with his son and grandchildren. He enjoyed shooting sports. Joe had a passion for sports cars, especially BMWs.  He also had a great love of the outdoors, enjoying nature walks and observing wild animals in their natural habitat. Additionally, he was Lady Gaga’s number one fan.

There will be a Rosary and viewing on Thursday, February 20 beginning at 6 p.m. at Baker Foster Funeral Home, 5685 Lee Farm Lane, Suffolk Va.  A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 21, at St. Paul Catholic Church, 522 High St., Portsmouth. Burial will follow at All Saints Catholic Cemetery in Portsmouth. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul Catholic Church Restoration Fund, c/o 3501 Cedar Ln., Portsmouth, VA 23703. Condolences may be registered at BWFosterFuneralHome.com.

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Joe was one of the nicest people I've ever met. Joe worked for me intermittently at the Navy yard, and he was a man that could always be counted on to get things done. I don't think he ever met a stranger. Reast easy, Joe. My condolences to Joe's family.

Tom Cake May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Joe was a truly great guy. He was always smiling, always upbeat, always had a great smile on his face. He is missed.

Roger G Gard May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Whenever I ran into Joe, always smiling in good spirits. He kind of kept me up-to-date on the "Portsmouth Catholic " family, mutual friends &family of our past. Much sorrow in hearing of his passing. RIP my friend Gene Gasparini

Eugene Gasparini May 13 2021 12:00 AM

Eulogy that I had the honor of reading at Joe's service at St. Paul Catholic Church in Portsmouth: There are so many things to say about Joe Balsamo its hard to know where to start. He was an unassuming man. He kind of stayed in the background. In fact, I am sure that many who crossed his path never realized what a truly good and honorable man they had come in contact with. He was never cruel in thought or actions towards his fellow man. As unassuming as he was, he had hidden depths, now and then offering opinions that showed a subtleness of thought and an understanding of the subject that many had overlooked. He was a boss and co-worker to many people in his 38 years on the job at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and judging by the people who came by to see him in his final days as well as the ones here today, a well-respected one. And I might add, an extremely patriotic one. Joe was the finest of family men. He loved his wife, his sister and brother, his children and he loved his grandchildren to distraction. He had a special relationship with his son Joey and his family. It truly saddens me that Bella and Hope wont get to enjoy him as they grow up. Im sure Joe would have turned out to be an indulgent grandpa who would have spoiled them senseless and they will miss out on that. It equally saddens me that Joey will miss out on having his father in his life any longer. To Joey: Joe was your number one advocate. I know quite a few Joeisms however being mindful of where we are today I cant share ALL of them. LAUGH ! However despite all his most excellent qualities Joe like all of us had a few quirks. For example, he wouldnt use the garbage disposal or allow anyone else to. His sister in law Barbara told me she asked him once: Joe why dont you like to use the garbage disposal? Its here for a purpose. His answer: Itll break with too much wear. She didnt say anything then but was thinking: youre a bloody plumber for Petes sake. If it breaks, you can fix it ! Same with the gas fireplace. Twelve years in the house and not once has the fireplace been turned on. Same reason. It might break. I guess thinking about that afterwards maybe he wasnt so quirky after all, just was just saving himself some work. Joes interaction with the family pet has special meaning in his family because we all have witnessed him grumbling about Cesar. Cesar is the family Yorkie and the worst mannered dog you ever never hoped NOT to meet. The Joe/Cesar relationship was a hoot. Joe would grumble and mutter under his breath how useless the mutt was and how hed like to turn him loose in heavy traffic. Yet heaven help you if you tried to take care of that dog. He insisted, displaying all kinds of martyrdom that HE be the one to conduct EVERY walk. That HE take care of EVERY doggie need. Wed be having dinner at Christines house, in the same neighborhood, and Joe would leave the dinner to go walk that dog. Yes it happened ! The last few weeks of his life, Cesar was a constant companion of Joes. He would cry and whine until Mary Frances put him up on the bed so he could lie at Joes feet. He was content ! I first met Joe at the Shipyard back in the early 80s, I was a Nuclear Inspector and Joe was a Nuclear Pipefitter. Slow Joe they called him, he worked at his own pace. He ALWAYS had a nice clean white canvas toolbag with the acronym NNSY on the side, carried it everywhere he went ! Ive got a little story about Joe that I will share. Once I showed up in the Engine Room on one of the Nuke Cruisers to cover Joe while he worked, he was installing a pipe prepping machine on a small pipe, then a plug into the pipe to keep it clean while he machined it; once I verified the plug was installed Joe could remove the Large ring that prevents losing the plug into the system and go to work prepping the pipe for welding. Well the job was in the overhead and it was hard to reach, Joe messed with the prepping machine trying to get it installed for 15 minutes, but couldnt get it to seat properly. He didnt have all of the tools he needed and said I dont have the wrench I need, Ill be right back and left the space to return to the work barge (which was berthed next to the cruiser). Normally the inspectors wouldnt wait, theyd just leave and say let me know when youre ready to come back. But instead of climbing out of the space, up three ladders, only to have to return within a half hour, I waited. After about 10 minutes, I looked in Joes white toolbag to see if maybe the wrench he needed was in there and he just missed it. There wasnt one dang tool in that bag, the only thing in there were three PBJ sandwiches ! .. when Joe showed up a couple of minutes later with the wrench I asked him why dont you carry the wrench in your bag, instead of those dang sandwiches ?? The look on his face was priceless, but he quickly said I love those PBJs, you want one ?? It completely disarmed me, I just had to laugh about it. Joe was very proud of the fact that he was a US Navy veteran and a civil service worker, as his dad was. I remember his dad, I was a second year apprentice and his father was a welder and worked in the pipe shop for most of his career. I remember him always having a stub of a stoogie clamped in his jaw. Personally Joe was a great friend to me. As a handyman, or as rental owners, as we both were, whenever I would need some plumbing help I could always call on Joe for his expertise pipefitting knowledge. In return I would help him when work was needed on his rental unit. And we got to hang out together. We had some great times together, when I would pick Joe up at his house he would always wave when I pulled up to the curb, then he would walk slowly to the truck, no hurry, he was on Joe time ! He would often ride along with me on any day I worked, he liked the companionship and we would often solve all of the worlds problems in one day. And of course wed end up talking about the shipyard, you know it ! It didnt take me very long to understand that Joe knew cars. I grew up working on cars, swaping engines, rear ends, you name it . but Joe would always have an eye out for cars, and he knew his stuff about all of them ! I quickly realized that Joe ranked me. When I really got to know Joe on a personal level in 2009 he had a small white BMW convertible, he loved that car ! He was always talking about them. Once in awhile he would spot an unusual car or a new BMW and sing out look at that ! When I would ask him about it, he would give me Chapter and Verse on its pros and cons. He had a huge warehouse of car knowledge. He also had a vast knowledge of Lady Gaga as well. Joe loved him some Lady Gaga, he had a poster on the wall of his garage of her on stage. The first time I was in his garage I asked him who Lady Gaga was ..believe it or not I really didnt know who she was in 2009. Joe just said Pum Pum . you can figure out the rest. We would always try to include lunch when we were working on our rentals, the day was not complete without two dogs apiece, we knew ALL the Hot Dog places around Portsmouth and NE Suffolk. Copelands, Rays, Poppys . We would ride to different cities to try out their dogs to Newport News to try out the Hot Dogs at Kings .. or the Square Dogs on Colley Ave. We were hopeless . One line of mustard please Joe would always say when he ordered. I will miss him very much. What is death you might ask ? A friend sent me this poem, which was actually a part of a sermon delivered by the author Henry Scott-Holland, dated 1910. Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemn-ity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Brian S Baird May 13 2021 12:00 AM