Meet the new Mr. Italy

Beloved Joe Brandi honored as 2021 Italian American of the Year

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Lifelong Patchoguean Joe Brandi was born at Port Jefferson hospital on Jan. 6, 1948, and has resided on Cleveland Street his entire life.

Growing up with his sister Francis, he remembers walking up the block almost every day to visit his grandmother, Vincenza “Jennie” Brandi, who lived at 18 Cleveland Street with his Aunt Catherine, who was stricken with polio during the epidemic, along with Uncle Angelo, who everyone called ZiZi. Between the three of them, they would bake cakes, Italian pastries, and all kinds of authentic Italian food, as well as make wedding gowns and dresses for many local brides. His grandmother was a very proud Italian, but even more proud to be an American citizen. She would tell stories of Italy and about their ancestors, and always stressed that you should be proud of your Italian heritage.

Many good times were had on holidays and special occasions, as family always made these events extra special. Brandi said he remembers relatives would come out from Brooklyn and New York City and would always gather in the garage, which was converted into a summer kitchen, where they would eat and drink throughout the night.

He attended Medford Avenue School and then South Ocean Middle School, and later Patchogue High School. He met his future wife, Joann Stella of Bellport, at a neighbor’s house when he was 14, and they were together for 60 years. They had three children, Justine, Joseph Jr. and Jeffrey.

“Joann was the most wonderful, loving person, wife and mother that anyone could ever asked for,” he said. She passed away in late 2018.

As a multi-sport athlete at Patchogue High School, Brandi went on to become a highly accomplished teacher, coach, and prolific community volunteer and leader. He was captain and MVP of his high school soccer, basketball and baseball teams and was selected to their all-star teams. When his father took ill in 1966, he decided to stay home instead of going away to college. He continued his success at Suffolk County Community College, where he played three sports and captained the soccer and baseball teams before eventually going to State University at Brockport to major in physical education and play on their baseball team. Upon graduation, he landed a teaching job in the Connetquot Schools, where he taught for 35 years and coached many championship teams in multiple sports. At one point, he went 22 years without taking a single day off, and as a dedicated teacher and coach, he was inducted into the Connetquot Wall of Fame as one of their winningest coaches.

During the many years he worked for Connetquot Schools, he also served the Patchogue-Medford community, where his three children were all outstanding scholar-athletes at PMHS. He coached in the PYAA baseball league, PMYSL soccer league, NPMYAC basketball league, and also ran summer girls soccer programs and basketball clinics for the Village of Patchogue. After retiring from Connetquot in 2005, he was able to devote more time to his Patchogue community. He designed and erected two “Welcome to Patchogue” signs, built floats for local parades, and at the request of mayor Paul Pontieri, he took on several village responsibilities that he continues to fulfill to this day as a code compliance officer and housing inspector.

As fundraising chairman for the Knights of Columbus, he has helped raise monies for charities such as the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, local veterans’ groups, soup kitchens, and our local Catholic churches. As president of the Monseigneur Corporation, he is in charge of their hall on West 1st Avenue in Patchogue. His family received the Knights of Columbus Family of the Year award, and recently he was honored as Knight of the Year.

An original member of the Maple Avenue Neighborhood Watch, at 73 he still rides his bike throughout the Patchogue community making sure the community is safe. A most dedicated and proud Patchogue resident, he is always there to lend a helping hand wherever needed, known as the man that can’t say no!

He said he is honored by the title and would like to thank his family, friends, and Patchogue residents. He wishes everyone a most wonderful life as he had growing up in Patchogue.

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