Joe De Gregorio ‘always emembered where he came from'

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:27

    There is an old saying about the inscription on a headstone - date of birth, DASH, and date of death - that the dates are not nearly as important as the dash in the middle. What did that person do in the years, which mark the dash? The recent article published by The Photo News regarding Joe De Gregorio gave an excellent account of Joe’s life. Two highlighted headings deserve emphasis: “Giving Back to the Community” and “The Key to True Happiness.” Early in 2000, the late Dave Woodward interviewed Joe, who was then in his early 90’s. Joe gave an accounting of his youth, emphasizing the opportunities he availed himself of and how it shaped his life. He delivered mail from Woodbury to Newburgh, via the train. His lantern job, reported in The Photo News, his job of rewinding movie tapes and transporting them between Highland Mills and Woodbury and his opportunity to work for the Harriman family are but a few he described in his taped interview. All of them sum up to the opportunity afforded him in his adopted country. His work ethic, and his self-imposed will to live within his means is the thread which permeates all his efforts. His country gave him the freedom to make his way for himself and his family. This was the opportunity he deemed important to “give back to his community.” In his humble way, he articulates the pleasure he derived from this opportunity. His key to true happiness is expressed in the way he conducted his life as quoted in The Photo News article. He was a man of humility, honesty and honor. For those who knew Joe, his word was his honor and he conducted his life with that deep faith. Political affiliation was never considered as he worked with other Woodbury residents, always respecting and loving his country. This was so evident when the Democrat Party honored Joe with an appreciation dinner. All were invited; many people packed the restaurant ... of many political affiliations, religions, of diverse financial status ... all to show their love and respect of Joe. “When you get there, remember where you came from” is a saying which fits the 103 years of Joe’s life. From Italy to “Hentown,” to “Gab Alley” to Still Street” to the Harriman Estate and back to Still Street, and finally to St. Joseph’s, a path traveled by Joe. But he never changed. He always remembered where he came from. And he will always be remembered for that. As a tribute to Joe, the Gatehouse Learning Center will air the tapes mentioned above on Sunday, Nov. 21, from 2-4 p.m. This is also the annual Open House, called the “Callahan Christmas,” which honors all those who support the Gatehouse. The Gatehouse is located at 224 Smith Clove Road Central Valley. We invite you to share refreshments (in the Callahan tradition), visit with friends and view the tapes. The tapes will run continually during the open house. Dorothy Morris Highland Mills For additional information about the Woodbury Historical Society’s Open House on Nov. 21, e-mail Dorothy Morris at or call 928-6378.