Captain Joseph S. Pagano Jr.’s last alarm came November 3‚ 2006‚ while serving his city and in the line of duty. This alarm signaled the passing of a firefighter who dedicated his life and career to God‚ family‚ and education. It was through this trilogy that Captain Pagano loved his family and spent 28 years nurturing‚ mentoring‚ and leading the firefighters of Middletown‚ Connecticut. Captain Pagano married Linda in 1983‚ and for 23 years they created lasting memories which included his fellow firemen. In addition to leaving behind Linda‚ Captain Pagano will forever be remembered through his two daughters‚ Marlise‚ 20‚ and Justine‚ 17.
Joe’s passion for life showed in everything he did. As a young man in high school‚ Joe starred in baseball and football. His presence on both teams defined each team’s personality‚ and his leadership was strikingly similar to what today’s firefighters came to know and love. Joe’s experiences at Xavier High School‚ an all male Catholic high school‚ shaped much of his belief in service above self‚ and it forged a path taken that included a life spent with God‚ his family‚ and his fellow firefighters.
Joe was appointed a firefighter on September 11‚ 1978. He successfully completed the Fire Academy in October 1978‚ and soon after received his first promotion to Lieutenant. During Joe’s tenure as a fireman‚ he was active in the fire department’s union. Even though Joe had moved from rank and file into a leadership position‚ he remained involved and engaged in union activities. His efforts always focused on improving the working environment and the lives of each family under his command and in his department.
In 1999‚ Joe was once again promoted‚ and this time it was to the rank of Captain. In a ceremony punctuated by loud bursts of applause‚ Joe was sworn in to his new position. Joe’s personal mantra was to better all aspects within the fire department without compromising the value that he placed upon the lives of each fire fighter and their family. Joe Pagano was an extension of all that is good in fire departments across our nation.
In the Middletown community‚ Joe was known for his kind heartedness and his loud and authoritative ‘safe and out’ calls made as a high school and American Legion umpire. His strength in size and voice served him well as an umpire‚ but it was his fairness and passion for supporting all youth athletic and educational programs that spoke volumes to his city about Joe’s love for the youth in Middletown. In fact‚ the students at Wesleyan University held a vigil in Joe’s honor. Joe was a familiar face on campus‚ and students often called upon him in time of need.
On November 9‚ 2006‚ an entire city was brought to its knees by the untimely passing of Joe Pagano. Businesses and schools closed‚ and an entire community came together to say goodbye and thank you. During Joe’s eulogy‚ his best friend‚ Rick Misenti‚ summed nicely the legacy of Joe. When referring to Joe’s lasting influence on our town and the fire department‚ Mr. Misenti said‚ ‘Great leaders last forever. The great leader becomes immortal.’Joe Pagano will live forever in the lives of all the people he touched‚ mentored‚ and loved.