It is with a heavy heart that I write that my father, Joseph Salvatore Naioti has passed away at the age of 86.
Many will remember him fondly as a football player, an army buddy, coach or teacher but to anyone who knew him called him a friend. My dad was an amazing guy and lived a great life, born in 1936 he grew up in a WWII America, he was always the embodiment of the can-do attitude of that generation, with enough determination and hard work you could do anything. One of his proudest achievements was playing on the 1959 Syracuse football championship team when he played alongside Ernie Davis. He also played football for the Army and later the New York Giants farm team, he loved football but also became a very successful basketball coach at different schools. My father was a tough guy, to me he was larger than life but he was always a big kid, loved a caper and getting into an adventure. One of his many great stories is how when he graduated high school he hitchhiked from Fulton, NY to Rockaway Beach, MO to his brother’s restaurant where he made meatballs and danced with girls, I can only imagine.
Most people will remember him as a teacher, for 50+ years he taught junior and senior high school science in the central New York area where he taught at Weedsport, Holy Trinity and for almost 30 years Bishop Grimes. If you had him as a teacher you definitely remember he was not like the other teachers, playing the ball game, growing a plant in his classroom, naming off the 60 bones in your leg, hear a story about a giant squid or randomly getting called on to name 5 flightless birds. There was a good chance a day in his class you were going to have a good time, he would get you cracking up and you would leave knowing something new.
All the while he was a teacher, he also kept busy as a salesman. I have known him to be a salesman for World Book Encyclopedia, Rainbow vacuum cleaners, water purifiers, baseball cards, baseball hats and for 30 years held court down the farmers market and NY state fair selling whatever he could, the man loved a hustle. I used to love tagging along on his “rainbow calls” when we would go demo rainbow vacuum and try to make a sale. If we did he would peel me off a twenty dollar bill from a roll of cash. He was a charismatic guy and could sell just about anything.
Family gatherings were always so much fun, eating good, sharing stories and jokes. And there were many, my Father and mother were married 53 years and as far as I recall he was never convinced you could get a better meal at a restaurant than what he got at home. If you have ever spent a holiday dinner in our house, he would be telling stories or asking questions only to pause to tell you how great the next thing my mom brought from the kitchen was going to be. Stare you in the eye and say “you gotta try ______ it’s out of this world”. After we would clear the table, play cards, have deserts and drink coffee late into the night.
As much as he will be missed it brings me solace knowing he is at peace, he’s body is no longer giving out on him, no more aches and pains. If there is a heaven I know he is up there right now, petting all the dogs and telling stories over card games.
Love you pop.
Joseph is survived by his wife of 52 years, Sharon (Vidler) Naioti; his children, Joseph of Syracuse and Jamie (Sam) and their two children, Nash and Juniper of Texas. Private services.
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