Joseph Nicolo Santacesaria

Joseph N. Santacesaria

Greece: Joe was called to his Lord on February 9, 2018 while surrounded by his family, at the age 57. He was predeceased by his parents, Vincent & Gloria Santacesaria; sister-in-law, Nancy L. Santacesaria.  Joe is survived by his brothers, Vincent (Susan) Santacesaria & Nicolas Santacesaria; sister, Nancy J. Santacesaria; nieces, Nicole (Serafino) Rosso, Natalie, Nina & MaryHelen Santacesaria; great-niece, Mila Rosso; beloved cousin, Dr. Benedetto Tarantino; several aunts, uncles, cousins & friends.

Joseph’s visitation will be held 4-7 on Thursday at the funeral home, 1411 Vintage Lane. His funeral service will be celebrated 10:00 am on Friday at the funeral home. Inurnment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery to follow his service. Donations may be sent to the Starbridge-Friends helping Friends, 1650 South Ave, Suite 200, Rochester NY 14620 in Joe’s memory.

Joe grew up in Greece, NY, the oldest of four children.  Although he was born with Cerebral Palsy and eventually lost the ability to walk, he never let his CP or his wheelchair define who he was.  

He earned a Youth Cares Award while at Greece Olympia High School for his active involvement in endeavors to benefit others through Future Business Leaders of America, Scouting, and the Big Wheels bowling team.  Following graduation, Joe attended Monroe Community College graduating with an Associate in Business Management degree, and then followed that up by getting a Bachelor in Management degree from St. John Fisher College.  He was always so proud of that accomplishment.

Joe is probably best known in the Rochester area for being a Civil Rights Advocate.  He was a co-founder of Transportation Advocacy Group where he served as a media spokesperson and a liaison between Regional Transit Service agencies and group constituents.  He made several trips to Albany to meet with lawmakers around accessible transportation issues.  He was also a Center for Disability Rights board member.

To Joe, his greatest achievement was leaving home to live in his own apartment.  At a time when there weren’t many places where physically disabled adults could live on their own, he persisted until he found an apartment that would allow him make the necessary changes to accommodate his wheelchair. 

While living in his first apartment, he held several jobs in the City of Rochester.  From his start as a clerical assistant at Discovery Day Care and switchboard operator for the Al Sigl Center to project coordinator for the Lyell Area Revitalization Committee, where he received a Hall of Fame award for his work, he was always looking for a way to make a contribution.  He really loved working and the independence it allowed him. 

As an advocate for people with disabilities, Joe worked to raise awareness in the community and organized presentations that encouraged others toward independence.  In recent years, he was a public speaker and trainer for the Self-Advocacy Association/AmeriCorps, New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, and Lifetime Assistance, Inc.  He was always researching, organizing, and developing educational material for the public, as well as the disabled. 

When his health began to fail and he had to be moved to an apartment in Greece with 24-hour aide service, he insisted on being self-directed—meaning he hired and trained his own aides.  He made his own transportation arrangements and fought valiantly to improve public transportation for people with disabilities. 

Just so you don’t think Joe was all work and no play, he was a huge sports fan.  He loved attending Red Wings baseball games, was a diehard Buffalo Bills fan, and a regular caller to the Bob Matthews Show on 1180 WHAM.  He also made sure that he got to as many of his nieces’ plays, performances, and birthday parties as he possibly could.  He thoroughly enjoyed his role as uncle.  He also enjoyed planning family gatherings with his siblings after his mother passed away. 

Joe was an inspiration to his family, as well as to those for whom he advocated.  He will be fondly remembered for his optimism and never complaining about his lot in life.  He will be greatly missed. 

“I’m going to miss all my friends.  But, it’s time to go on and just knowing you were able to do it makes you feel good.”   —Joe Santacesaria on the occasion of his graduation from high school, June 21, 1980