Salem — Joseph A. Tache, 78, passed away on Father's Day after a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. In his last months, he worked out with his friends at the Salem YMCA, shoveled snow, and cut the lawn in lieu of being on bed rest. He was adored by his wife, Juliana and his five children, Joseph, John, Jerry, Juliana, and Jennifer, and his grandson, Jack.
“Big Joe” or “Sonny,” as he was lovingly called by his family and friends, was born in Waterbury, Conn., in March of 1935, and moved to Salem when he was six. He was raised by Joe and Lucienne Tache of Salem, and all of his life was very close to his older brother, Gerry, his wife Janis, nephew, Garrett and grandniece, Anna Tache of Annapolis, Md. He loved being on the water, traveling the world, and spending time with his family and friends on all parts of the globe.
A prominent figure in Salem and New England sports lore, Big Joe’s playing days date back to the mid-1950s, where he was a three-sport athlete at Salem High. Joe grew up around Forest River Park, and played football, baseball, basketball, and ran track. His claim to fame was that he played on the last team of the legendary Salem hoops coach Glenn Obrien, that won the Essex County League in 1954. At Salem High, Big Joe was a Lynn Item All-Star as a two-way starting tackle for the Witches.
After a year at Mass Maritime and Dean Junior College, Joe took a full football scholarship to the University of Dayton in Ohio. While there, he started both ways as a tackle, sharing time with future NFL greats Emil Karras of the San Diego Chargers and Bob Demarco of the Super Bowl Miami Dolphins. At the end of his college career, Joe was a hot commodity — hearing from every team in the NFL. Hand-written letters from Vince Lombardi and Papa Bear George Halas hang on his walls. However, a knee injury in the second game of his senior year in 1960 ended his NFL dreams.
On graduation day, Joe married his college sweetheart, Julie Cline of Dayton, and nine months later he was the proud papa of twin boys.
Opting for a military career at the time of the Vietnam War, Joe tried to enlist but was again sidelined because of his knee. In 1961, Joe took a teaching job at Chaminade High in Ohio, and taught biology and general science while coaching the football team with Gerry Faust, former Notre Dame head coach.
In 1962, Joe went back to his alma mater and worked in the admissions office, and when he could, he would help out with the football team on a part-time basis. Joe always liked coaching because to him, “It was as enjoyable as playing.” In 1966, Joe moved on to the admissions office at Boston College, where he would eventually serve as the dean of students during the Vietnam protest years. In 1971, Joe was offered a job at Salem State College where he served as associate director of admissions until his retirement in 1995.
It was then that Big Joe’s life really began to move. Joe and Julie, whom he convinced to take some time from her real estate agency, and their family traveled the world, from the beaches of Maui to the canals of Venice. If Big Joe sat around for more than a week he would get bored. Life was his adventure. Life was for living.
More than anything in life, Joe Tache was all about family, friends and helping countless high school and college students attain their dreams. He cherished the times with his family, as well as the times he shared with his closest friends, Dick Lamby, Frank Roblee, Steve Palenchar, Pat Connor, Tony Sperandeo, Sammy Zoll, Kevin Harrington, David Elliott, Michael Ginley, Mark McGlaughlin, and all his buddies at the Salem YMCA.
Though Joe will be in the hearts and minds of his wife and five children forever, he will be deeply missed by the scores of young people whom he mentored over the years and helped to achieve and expect more from themselves than they ever could have alone.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are invited to his visiting hours on Thursday, June 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., at the Levesque Funeral Home, 163 Lafayette St., Route 114/1-A, Salem. His funeral Mass will be on Friday at 10 a.m., in the Immaculate Conception Church, Hawthorne Blvd., Salem. A committal service will take place on Saturday, June 22, at 11 a.m., at Harmony Grove Cemetery, Grove St., Salem. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Salem High School Sports Program, c/o Scott Connolly, 77 Wilson St., Salem, MA 01970. For guest book and additional information, please visit www.LevesqueFunerals.com.