Joseph Sateriale

Joseph Gordon Sateriale

Friday, May 30th, 1924 - Sunday, June 30th, 2019
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Joseph Gordon Sateriale passed on June 30, 2019. He was known to his family as Gordon and to the rest of the world as Joe.

Gordon was born in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston to Emily and Al Sateriale. He had a brother Francis, who was his lifelong best friend, and a sister Carol who died in childhood. Gordon grew up in Cambridge in a neighborhood known as “The Coast,” then a gritty section of the Cambridgeport district. His home was adjacent to Hoyt Field, so Gordon grew up very athletic, playing basketball, baseball, and football with his brother, his double-cousins Frankie, Joe, and Arthur Signoriello, and an “Our Gang” collection of buddies from every ethnic and racial group that had settled The Coast. It was at Hoyt Field that Gordon learned life’s lessons: to compete hard and fair, to accept everyone as they were, and to judge no one.

Gordon attended parochial school at St. Paul Parish off Harvard Square, and then Cambridge High and Latin School, where he met the love of his life, Dora Marie Romagna. Their courtship was interrupted by World War II. Gordon was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic service in the Battle of the Bulge.

In 1946 Gordon married Dora in Cambridge at her home parish, St. Francis of Assisi Church. They were married for almost 73 years. Together they had four sons: Kenneth (Eileen), Norman (Brenda), Mark (Elaine), and Alan (Cheryl). Gordon is survived by his sons, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Gordon graduated from Boston University and Harvard University and worked for the Cambridge Public School System from 1952 – 1987, starting as a mathematics teacher at Rindge Technical School and retiring as Superintendent of Schools.

Known as Joe Sateriale to his colleagues, Joe conducted his career with the commitment of a religious calling. Joe was every bit as dedicated to the schoolchildren of Cambridge as to his own family. Joe’s greatest satisfaction was helping kids from disadvantaged circumstances to discover their own potential. In their faces, he saw his old gang from Hoyt Field.

Relatives and friends are invited to visit in the DeVito Funeral Home 761 Mt. Auburn St., WATERTOWN on Monday July 15, 2019 from 9:00 - 10:00 am and to his funeral mass at 10:30 am at Saint Peter Parish, Cambridge. Burial to follow in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. In lieu of flowers, you are invited to donate to the charity of your choice.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Monday, July 15th, 2019 | 9:00am - 10:00am
    Monday, July 15th, 2019 9:00am - 10:00am
    DeVito Funeral Home - Watertown
    761 Mt. Auburn Street
    Watertown, MA 02472
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Funeral Mass

    Monday, July 15th, 2019 | 10:30am
    Monday, July 15th, 2019 10:30am
    St. Peter Parish - Cambridge
    100 Concord Ave.
    Cambridge, MA 02138
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Monday, July 15th, 2019 |
    Monday, July 15th, 2019
    Mount Auburn Cemetery
    580 Mount Auburn St.
    Cambridge, MA 02138
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Dayna Lederman

Posted at 02:48pm
Joseph Gordon Sateriale. To his close friends and family he went by Gordon but there is still debate in the details of how he got that name. It is believed that it was either a car or furniture salesman that gave his mother a good deal and when she thanked him he replied “just name your son after me.” Maybe it was a phrase lost in translation to the first generation American family, or maybe they just liked the name. But they did in fact name him Gordon.

When he was a young man, he met Dora Romagna and fell in love. Before being deployed in WWII, he would recall going to a movie theater to see Casablanca with Dora. They held each other and cried. He promised her he would come back and marry her. While he was away, Dora was welcomed into the family, posing in family photos with the Sateriale’s in Gordon’s place.

He was a radio operator stationed all over Europe for much of his time in the service. He had so many stories from the war that I don’t believe I was the only grandchild to do a school biography on him.

One time, over the radio when a German operator got a message through without being jammed he finished with “HA!” Then Gordon got a message through and finished with “HA HA!” They went on like this for a while.

He would recall hearing German Christmas songs over the radio, which he could still sing right up until the day he died. Though he didn’t speak any German he had a knack for carrying a tune.

He also talked about being stationed in the Netherlands at the end of the war. People, suffering from the aftermath, were begging in the streets. Gordon said that soldiers would sometimes give the women and children food or money so he would look for the men to give to, as he felt bad that they often were overlooked.

His “war stories” were always about compassion. And an understanding of the human side of conflict. When talking about the war he would say “I was just a kid. We were all just kids.”

When he returned from the war, he knew he had to get a college degree so he went to the Boston University campus and when he saw the sign for School of Education, he thought “yea, that’s what I want, an education” and signed up for classes. That’s how he became a teacher.

He loved math. I remember him calling my house one day when I was in high school and asking how my day was. I mentioned it was my first day of school and he said “what math class are you taking?” I told him I was taking Trigonometry and he quickly said “what’s the cosine of 30?” I panicked and answered incorrectly, oh well, it was only my first day. But when I got home from school the next day I found that grandpa had overnighted me his favorite trig text book.

Gordon was a social person. He proudly kept a gym membership into his 80s and while it was partly because he loved to exercise, it was just as much a reason to visit with his friends.

I had the opportunity to live in a two family home with my grandparents for the first 9 years of my life. I remember nightly television of MacGyver and Wheel of Fortune. Knowing that once Jeopardy came on it was time for me to go to bed. EVOD ice cream bars, washing his car tires for $0.25 each.

He also had horrible taste in candy, keeping boxes of Jujubes in his desk. My teeth hurt just thinking about them.

In the last few years of their lives Gordon and Dora found even more comfort in each other’s company. Gordon, still being a social guy was known for singing to his bride in the Assisted Living home. And while he often called the family asking for peanuts and SuDoKu books, at the end of her life, Grandpa called just asking us to come visit Nonna.

And so while it is difficult to say goodbye to a generation, Grandpa can rest assured that he shared with THIS generation some of his greatest traits. Compassion. Love. Caring for others. Dedication for service. In his memory, I ask you all to carry on these same traits.

James Mahoney

Posted at 08:48pm
Writing equations on the blackboard, and when he reached the edge, without pause, continuing to write across the door. Punctuating a particularly pleasing (to him!) mathematical point by bapping his dusty eraser on top of my head (which anointing I treasured at the time and have held dear in memory since). Not only imparting words of wisdom to the class as a whole, but also to at least some of us individually and privately.
I could continue. But the point is that he was, and remains, a "presence" in the lives of many of us, teaching much more than algebra. He is one of my personal icons and compass points, and my only regret is that I never seized the chance to tell him so in later years.
James Mahoney, RTS '66

Adam Sateriale

Posted at 01:49pm
One of my favorite Grandpa memories, and there are many, were his list of secret shortcuts. While driving his grandkids to get ice cream, or play a round of mini-golf at Hago Harrington’s, he would occasionally narrate his route. ‘I’m taking super-secret-shortcut number 3-8-2-4-5’, he would tell us. ‘That’s not real, you’re making that up!’ we hollered from the back seat. ‘Oh yes it is’, he would say to us, ‘officially registered with the Secret Shortcut Bureau in Washington’. When we pointed out that this route seemed awfully similar to super-secret-shortcut 9835a, which he had introduced to us the previous week, he would assure us ‘it was just officially reclassified’. We loved him for this playful, charming nature that stayed with him his entire life. I’m very thankful to have spent so much time with him, and my beautiful grandmother Dora, who is no doubt happy to see him.

Carla Sateriale

Posted at 06:07pm
Gordon was my grandpa, and I knew that he loved me. I suspect he loved nearly everyone in his life on some level.

On Easter 2018, I called him from while I was on vacation in Belgium. He said, "Belgium... I got lost driving a truck through Belgium during the war!" As if it was just a funny thing that happened that he had forgotten about.

Norman Sabbey

Posted at 06:15pm
Mr. Sateriale was the home-room teacher for Rindge Tech class of '63. He treated all of us with dignity and respect as responsible young men. Every morning he gave us his words of wisdom on how to survive in the world of that time. His advice was to the point - no platitudes. One day he mentioned he was sorry for us, which was a surprise to us because he always told us we had a bright future. He said we was sorry for us because he married the most wonderful and beautiful woman, so we would have to settle for the second best! Those were his words I have always remembered.
Norman Sabbey, Class '63

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