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.