By Thomas Rayfiel
Joseph Occhiogrosso who joined the Coop in 1987 and was a squad leader for over ten years, died on August 20, 2023. He was 60 years old.
Maria Treglia, a member of his squad—a Friday night receiving shift—remembers him as:
An amazing guy. I used to wait for a cab in front of the Coop at the end of the shift and he offered to drive me home. Our ride became a way to catch up about our lives and a way for Joseph to reflect on how smoothly the shift went. He was concerned when someone was absent and didn’t call and often asked me about my feedback on ways to improve the efficiency of our squad. He was a kind squad leader who took on the task with care and understanding. I never saw him get uptight or argue with anyone. He never enmeshed himself in personality conflicts but made everyone feel comfortable and asked folks to do jobs they felt comfortable with. Shifts were pleasant and there was a strong sense of camaraderie. We got things done because we worked as a team.
“He loved being a squad leader and the close connections he’d built with other members of the team. Joe loved the Coop as an institution. He was very proud of how long he’d been a member.”Joseph’s Wife, Suzy Borden
Joseph taught English for 30 years at John Dewey High School in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Testimonials from friends and colleagues mention his commitment to education, his passion for the Italian language and culture of his ancestors (from the Puglia region of Italy), as well as for music, photography, bicycling and the Mets. A student, Hryzoleta Ciercierka, wrote: “He was such an amazing teacher. Pushed me so hard and saw so much potential in me and my writing. To this day I think about how encouraging he was.”
Joseph is survived by his wife, Suzy Borden, and their adored cats Jasmine and Calypso; his loving sisters Joanne (Rob) and Marie (Steve); his niece Jessica (Jason); nephews Jeremy and Michael; grand-niece Avalee; Aunt and Uncle Carmela and Angelo Silecchia; Aunt and Uncle Angela and Stanley Pearlstein; and Aunt Connie Marzella, as well as many cousins and their children.
Suzy, his wife, recalls:
He loved being a squad leader and the close connections he’d built with other members of the team. Joe loved the Coop as an institution. He was very proud of how long he’d been a member. I came along much later, and Joe liked to correct me: When I’d ask if “they” carry a certain item, Joe would say, “you mean if we carry it!”
Member Thomas Rayfiel is the author of eight novels. He has also written “living obituaries” for VICE TV.