Joseph Francis McHugh, 86 years young, passed away peacefully Sunday, August 6, at St. Barnabas Hospital, Livingston, NJ, after a long courageous battle with cancer and its complications. Although he had a myriad of complications, Dad fought like a tiger for eight years and never gave up, even giving me the thumbs up the night before he passed. In the beginning of his cancer, we never realized the strength of the tiger walking beside us. He meant the world to us as a husband, father, grandfather “Poppy”, friend to many, besides being a loyal and rabid Jets fan. He had an epic sense of Irish humor which will miss so much it hurts.
As we met more doctors and nursing staff and needing a little levity, we would tell a truism of Dad that he was “86 going on 17”.
He was born to Joseph McHugh and Elizabeth O’Donnell in New York City in 1936 and grew up in Inwood (norther Manhattan). We always teased him that he was born during the Year of the Rat, and this is why we lovingly called him a lifelong packrat. As a young man, he loved to get dressed up and hit the city with his friends. We have many photos of Dad looking handsome and dapper in his suits. He loved his clothes, anything Irish, and his Jets.
He went into the Army in 1962 (he liked to say invited) and met the love of his life nurse Marie LaStoria at an Inwood party one weekend. By coincidence she lived in the next building down his street for a few months, yet they never ran into each other until after she moved to Washington Heights.
He was industrious, and worked at various jobs until he found and work for Lopert Films which became United Artists for 24 years. He graduated from Pace University with a degree in Accounting which prepared him for a career as an Accounting Manager.
He and Mom decided to move in 1975 and settled in Vernon, New Jersey. In 1992, he started working for St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, NJ for 24 years, retiring in 2015.
All who knew him would attest he was the life of the party wherever he went, even if just out to dinner, which was very entertaining. He would regale us with countless and ever new stories of growing up in his beloved Inwood, Army stories, and especially histories of ancient Rome and WWII, of which he was an amazing history buff. He was also extremely interested in space exploration, and tried to research these whenever he could.
In 2015, he was able to reconnect with some very long-lost Irish relatives (38 years) for which he was overjoyed.
He spent many wonderful holidays and occasions together with family and friends and giant Christmas trees, another of his favorite things.
He is survived by Marie, his wife of 58 years, daughter Valerie and son-in-law Tom Walsh of Long Valley, NJ, son Sean and wife Anita and grandsons Daniel and Joseph, all of Parkville, MD, sister Marie and husband Joseph Vieira of Jackson, NJ, sister Ann and Frank Congedo of Wappingers Falls, NY, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins galore.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, August 11, 2023, with the cortege leaving at 10:30 a.m. from Cook Funeral Home, 82 Litchfield St., Torrington, to St. Peter Church (St. John Paul the Great Parish), 99 East Main St., Torrington, CT 06790 for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Francis New Cemetery with final military honors accorded. Relatives and friends may call from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning at Cook Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, donations to a preferred charity are suggested to pay forward the many graces and blessings we were given as a family and all that happened with his sickness and the wonderful care he received.
We will not say goodbye because we don’t believe in it, but only say “till we see you again on the other side”.