|Joseph Braco, 88, of Oswego died peacefully January 7 at the home of friends in Lutz, Florida, in the company of his family and loved ones. For over fifty years he had lived in his home on East Seventh Street in Oswego, while more recently making trips to the Tampa area where he made a second home. He spent nearly forty years teaching industrial arts, first in the public schools around the Mohawk Valley, and then as an instructor of Technology at the State University College in Oswego. He served in the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War, and fought in every major battle of the Pacific campaign.
He was born in Newark Valley, New York, on June 6, 1923 and graduated from Newark Valley High School. After high school he took jobs in the defense industry and became a machinist and toolmaker. He volunteered for the Marine Corp in 1942 and joined A Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment of the Third Marine Division. By his account, he was one of only two men in A Company who made it through the three years of jungle warfare without being killed or injured.
In college at Oswego State, he met and eventually married Grace Florence Byrne of New York City, following a blind date and courtship that lasted until graduation. They were married in June of 1948 and began life in Fort Plain, New York, where he taught school and built his first home with the help of friends, other teachers, and Grace's father. They had two children while in Fort Plain, and two more following the move to Oswego where he taught Metals and other courses in both Park and Ontario Halls at the college. For many years he served the university system as a supervising teacher and traveled the state helping to train young teachers. He retired in 1983 as an Assistant Professor with service spread over five decades.
In his retirement, he became well known as the man who built a steam boat in his garage, sailing the authentic packet boat on the river near his home and sometimes in Oswego Harbor during festivals celebrating maritime history. He built both the wooden craft and the engine that powered it, and for many years had his model engines from the steam era on display at the university. He was also called on as a draftsman and illustrated a college textbook on technology, and in recent years contributed his wartime experiences to the production of a movie about American fighting men in the South Pacific. He was a man of physical strength and spiritual conviction who protected his family and their way of life with courage, a sense of duty, and great heart.
His wife, Grace, died in 1999. He is survived by his bother Nick, formerly of Binghamton, New York and now living in Kentucky, and all four of his children: Richard Braco of Port Dickinson, New York; Dr. Robert Braco of Decatur, Illinois; Ann Braco of Los Angeles, California; Thomas Braco, of Leesburg, Florida; and several granddaughters, nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be 4 to 7 pm Friday, January 13, at the Dain-Cullinan Funeral Home, 112 East Second Street, Oswego. The funeral will be from St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Oswego, at 10 am on Saturday, January 14. In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation in his name to a family favorite organization, the Friends of the Oswego City Library.