Westport native and longtime, well-respected Parks & Recreation Department employee Joseph “Joey” Arciola died peacefully on February 14. He was 52 years old.
Joey came from a long line of family members who served the town of Westport, as Public Works employees, police officers, firefighters and teachers.
Joey was retired from Parks & Rec, where he started his career as dock master at the age of 19. He worked his way to foreman for the department.
Joey was an avid sailor, hiker and camper. He loved Cockenoe Island. He was a passionate sports fan who never missed a Yankees, New York Rangers or Dallas Cowboys game.
His family says: “Joey devoted himself to his friends and family with unwavering commitment, love and loyalty. Throughout his life, he prided himself on making everyone around him a better person as well.”
Joey is survived by his parents, Sam Arciola Jr. and Jo Ann (Austin) Arciola, brother Sam Arciola III (Kelly), nephews Sam Arciola IV and Dominic Arciola whom he adored and treasured, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joey’s memory to Save the Sound.
Friends are welcome to attend a Mass of Christian Burial this Friday (February 24, 10 a.m., Assumption Church).
Longtime friend Andrew Colabella adds a tribute to Joey. He writes:
Joey Arciola lived and loved like every day was his last day fearlessly. He was a man who lived life to the fullest.
Today, Joey would have been 53. Six days ago, Joey left the earth, after making an imprint on thousands of lives.
Joey grew up in Westport, with his wonderful brother Sam. His hardworking parents, Samuel and Joanne, who still live in the same house today, still happily married. They followed in the same footsteps as their father, serving Westport.
Their father worked at the sewage treatment plant. Sam recently retired from the Westport Police Department, with over 30 years of service. Joey started working for the town on the docks and marinas, eventually making his way to the Parks & Recreation maintanence division as a laborer.
Joey spent the next 20-plus years in that department shape the town’s athletic and recreational fields. His work partner was Joey Saviano (click here),
The 2 Joes could be seen riding around in Truck 100, a blue single cab long bed, checking on all their hard work. Joey was easy to spot, always in cargo shorts, sneakers, a Yankees ball cap with perfectly trimmed short hair, walking fast on the ball of his feet.
He never stopped moving, except to stop at Junior’s Hot Dog Stand. He’d sit at the counter having lunch with the other Westport local legends and celebrities. His cousin Jeff was behind the counter.
In 8 hours his crew of guys had the lines stripped, grass rolled and cut, PH soil levels balanced, sprinklers timed, baseball fields ready, beach raked, trash picked up, guardrails weed whacked, and equipment ready to go. It all fell under Joey.
The town was ready to go, for all to enjoy. His style of management was sincere, yet tough. He expected the work that day to be done. But if variables beyond our control prevented completion, Joey would either show up to pitch in and help, never afraid but excited to teach, or call before it was started so that no one’s time was wasted. Joey was resourceful, fast thinking and organized.
Joey was elected president of his union, AFSCME 1303-194. He fearlessly went head to head with any and all for fair wages, incentives, protecting pensions and benefits for his employees. Joey knew the value of his talented workers and colleagues, and how much family meant to him.
Joey had no kids, but was there every step of the way from the birth of his nephews Samuel and Dominic. Those independent and successful bright boys both graduated from Staples, and went on to the University of Alabama.
Joey’s extended family members all too were influenced by his strong determination to give all and be all. Hard work, dedication and loyalty runs in all their blood.
If he had not employed me in his department for 9 years seasonally as I juggled school full time, I am not sure where I would be today. Joey gave me a chance. He gave me life, an education, knowledge, strength, determination, laughter (a lot), honesty and integrity. But he was also a boss at the same time. Respect was given and returned.
So whether you are an Arciola or a Meier, a child or adult who played on any of our athletic and recreational fields in town, or visited the Saugatuck restaurants and bars, or if you were lucky enough to go to a Yankees game with Joey, his impact is eternal.
So as I write this, knowing I unfortunately will not see Joey tomorrow, or every other tomorrow for the remainder of my existence, the ripples of his fingerprint on earth in this town will remain for decades to come.