BRUNSWICK – Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L Bruno, 91, passed away peacefully on October 6th, 2020 surrounded by loved ones at his home in Brunswick following a brief illness. He resided in Brunswick and wintered in his favorite destination, Palm Beach Florida.
Known as Uncle Joe and loved by many, the senior statesman was known for his quick wit and his determined approach to providing jobs, assistance and hope to those he served not only in his district, but throughout his beloved home state. He spent countless hours mentoring young people teaching them life skills and the value of hard work. He always believed in second chances and never giving up on anyone.
Senator Bruno is survived by his children, Joseph, Susan (Bob), Kenneth (Theresa) and Catherine (Rich). His longtime partner, Kay Stafford, remained at his side and comforted him throughout his final fight. Joe is also survived by his grandchildren, Rachel, Nicholas, Richard, Elizabeth, Anna, Victoria and Aiden and his greatgrandchild Alessandra. He also leaves behind his sister Florence and his four brothers Vitaliano (Lona), Arthur (Bonnie), Tony (Kerry) and Robert and many nieces and nephews. Joe was predeceased by his devoted wife of 58 years Barbara (Bobbie), his Sister Rose (Sam) DelSignore and his brother Peter (Ruth).
Born to immigrants Rachel Catherine (Ricciardelli) and Vitaliano, Joe, along with his two sisters and five brothers, the family grew up in a tiny, cold-water flat in Glens Falls. He attended nearby St. Mary’s Academy with his sisters and brothers. At St. Mary’s, Sister Marcia taught Joe Latin and he became the top altar boy in the church.
In an effort to help support his family, his work ethic was established at an early age, when not in school, Joe would do odd jobs like sell doughnuts and cinnamon buns from a nearby bakery to a local clothes manufacturer. He would also sell the local newspaper on street corners and would receive a penny for every paper sold. Other jobs included pulling weeds, cutting grass and unloading watermelons from boxcars. On the skinny side as a child, Joe took a few lumps from bullies on Glens Falls playgrounds. Aided by the teachings of a former boxer out of New York City, Joe learned how to box and defend himself – a sport he enjoyed throughout his life. The adversity in his life coupled with his positive attitude became the motto for his life and title of his book “Keep Swinging”.
Upon graduating St Mary’s, he began delivering blocks of ice to residences, restaurants and bars in Glens Falls and Lake George area. He took classes at Skidmore on the GI Bill and earned a business degree. Months later, he was drafted into the Army and was shipped to Korea and proudly served in the F Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Division. While serving his country in Korea, Joe fought and won his division’s light heavyweight boxing championship.
Upon his return from Korea, he became a successful salesman selling Amana freezers and the Amama Plan. He moved on to offering alarm systems, which was unsuccessful, but success awaited him when he started a company called Coradian with his partner Stan Ringel and they marketed the first digital phone systems and office intercoms a short time later upon the breakup of Bell telephone.
His first taste of politics came when he joined the Young republicans in 1966. Joe was asked to be part of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s re-election campaign team and served on the Governor’s campaign staff in 1966. Joe worked as Special Assistant to Speaker of the Assembly Perry B. Duryea (1969-1975), President of the New York State Association of Young Republicans (1968-1969), Chairman of the Rensselaer County Republican Committee (1974-1977), Member of the New York State Senate (1977-2008), and Majority Leader of the New York State Senate (1994-2008). Upon retiring from the New York State Senate, Joe worked as a longtime consultant to CMA Consulting Services headquartered in Latham, NY.
He was first elected to the New York State Senate in 1976 and he ultimately became the first businessman to lead the New York State Senate as the Majority Leader. During his tenure with the Senate, he was instrumental in bringing major economic development projects to the Capital Region including Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Global Foundries and Nanotech. In addition, he brought the farm team for the Houston Astros “the Valley Cats” to the region and the stadium was affectionately named “The Joe” after him.
Joe lived his life always trying to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity and to always persevere and keep fighting for what you believe in. After suffering a difficult period in his life, Joe wrote an autobiography entitled “Keep Swinging” detailing the events of his life and career.
To honor Joe’s life and his many accomplishments, the family will be celebrating a Funeral Mass at St. Pius X in Loudonville on October 9th at 1:00 Pm. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Mass will be live streamed. Joe’s friends and those wishing to celebrate his life are encouraged to watch in the Mass live on the St. Pius X website: https://www.stpiusxloudonville.org/parish-website-live-videos/ or view the Mass one hour after the Mass on the St. Pius YouTube or Facebook pages: https://m.youtube.com/results?search_query=st+pius+x+loudonville
In addition, the New York State Senate will be web casting the Funeral Mass in a Hearing Room in the Legislative Office Building to be determined.
On the way to the Mass, Bruno will be driven past “The Joe” for one final trip to the stadium that he loved to visit and looked forward to throwing out the first pitch of the season on many occasions. Upon conclusion of the Mass, he will be driven past the New York State Capitol on the way to his final resting place at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy for a private burial service.
Anyone wishing to pay their respects are invited to greet the procession to honor him and his life as he visits “The Joe” and circles the Capitol. Approximate times are 12:15 PM at “The Joe” and between 3:00-3:30 PM at the Capitol after the Funeral Mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Center of Albany Medical Center, 47 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, New York 12208 or the Northeast Kidney Foundation, 22 Colvin Avenue, Albany, New York 12206. Funeral Arrangements in the care of John H. Clinton Funeral Home now located at Wynantskill Funeral Home. For online condolences please visit www.wynantskillfh.com
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