Josephine Piro was born in Portland, Oregon to Joseph and Della Danna. Joseph was a first-generation Italian from Termini Imerese, Sicily, who came to Portland after a short time living in San Francisco, where he immigrated with an uncle. He settled in “Little Italy” in S.E. Portland and married Della Chiaramonte in 1919. Josephine came soon after, followed by her younger brothers, Salvatore and Joseph. Known as “Dolly” as a child, she attended Hosford Elementary and Commerce High School (now Cleveland.) After that she attended business school and went to work at Reingold Jewelry Store in Portland, followed by Fishels.
In 1948 she met James Piro through a friend, and after a short courtship, they married in November of 1948. Soon after the wedding they moved into their NE Portland home, where they (she) remained for over 50 years. During that time, they raised two children, Janet and Jimmy, and after being very active in their school’s parent group, Josephine went to work for Portland Public Schools as the head secretary at Girls Polytechnic High School (James Monroe), then Washington High School, and finally at Jefferson High School where she finished her career.
After her retirement, and with both kids out of the house, she and Jim enjoyed golfing and spending time with their growing Italian-American family. They traveled with friends and family to Europe and across the United States and Canada. Jo continued her travels after her husband’s’ death, traveling often with family including a new-millenium trip to Hawaii with all of her children and grandchildren. One memorable weekend in 2004 she attended her granddaughter’s college graduation in Nashville, Tennessee on a Friday and then flew to Los Angeles for her grandson’s college graduation on Saturday. There she met a friend from business school that she had not seen in over 60 years!
Josephine will be remembered as a caring and loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was always around when needed and was always seen at her grandchildren’s’ many events…football games, soccer games, basketball games, cheerleading competitions, gymnastics meets, etc. Josephine and Jim placed tremendous emphasis on the education of their two children, who both graduated from Oregon State University. They went on to very successful careers as a high school leadership and home economics teacher (Janet) and an engineer and eventual CEO of PGE (Jim). Furthermore, all 5 of Josephine’s grandchildren not only graduated from college, but have also earned graduate degrees. They include a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an executive, and a public policy advisor.
Jo Piro was a quintessential “Italian” grandmother and was known for her cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, and hosting of luncheons, dinner parties, and family gatherings. In 1933 she won the Royal Rosarian Grand Prize for best Rose Garden, a passion she has passed on to her grandson, Brian. Her recipes are legendary, and have been passed on with great care to all of her grandchildren, where they will continue to be used for generations to come. She was always willing and eager to offer advice, a helping hand, or a warm hug to any that asked, and many that never needed to.
Jo was an active member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, where she participated in many social and philanthropic activities, kept busy for over 30 years volunteering regularly at Albertina Kerr and Providence Child Center, and made many lifelong friends along the way. She was a wonderful friend to so many, and though she outlived most of them, they were a huge part of her life and our family’s.
Josephine was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Jim, her two brothers and their spouses; and her husband’s brothers and their spouses.
She is survived by her two children and their spouses, Janet (Piro) and Dick Pendergrass, Jim and Terrie Piro; five grandchildren and their spouses: Brian and Melissa Pendergrass, Kyle and Whitney Piro, Kristen Pendergrass, Kevin and Jill Piro, and D’Anna (Piro) and Collin Foster. She is also survived by four great-grandchildren: Maia, Nolan, Henry, and Eleanor, with another on the way. She also has many remaining nieces, nephews, and their families.
Her family would also like to extend special thanks to the staff at Cherrywood Assisted Living for all they did to make her final years so memorable! They were so good to her and our family, and those that knew her well loved her and took tremendous care of her. We will never be able to adequately express our deep and heartfelt gratitude for your kindness!
A rosary will be recited at 10:30 am, Tuesday, July 10th, 2018, followed by a funeral mass at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Providence Child Center Foundation Guild Endowment Fund at 830 NE 47th Ave, Portland, OR 97213.
Date: Monday, July 9, 2018
Time: 09:00 am
End Time: 04:30 pm
Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Time: 11:00 am
A rosary will take place before the Funeral Mass at 10:30am.
Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Time: 02:00 pm
Rose City Cemetery
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