December 19, 1928—March 1, 2018
Twin Falls area breakfast restaurants are mourning the loss of one of their most frequent and jovial customers, Joseph Benjamin Fascilla, who passed away peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Joe was surrounded by his loving family, who were sharing some tears, and much laughter, as background music for his departure to the multitude of loved ones who have preceded him in death, and prepared heaven for his arrival. We’ve no doubt he’ll arrive hungry for the bacon and sausage he was required to abstain from during the last year of his life; much to his disdain. He never actually said a low-sodium, bacon-free life wasn’t worth living, but we all know he was thinking it.
Joe Ben, as his brother Sherman fondly referred to him, was born in Boise, Idaho on December 19, 1928 to Ralph Fascilla and Pearl (Daly) Fascilla. Father, Ralph, was a first generation American, arriving in 1905 from Bari, Italy at age 20. Mother, Pearl, was a third generation Scottish/Irish American from Elgin, Nebraska. They met and married in Boise, Idaho, and had four children: Ralph, Sherman, Joseph and Marie.
Joe’s early life, living in the family home just off State street in Boise, was happiness interrupted by unimaginable tragedy, unexpectedly losing both of his parents within 6 months of one another by age 13. Orphaned towards the end of the great depression, the Fascilla children were taken in by his mother’s sister and her husband, who would become his second family. Tom and Minnie Mays had five children of their own, but made room for the Fascilla orphans, bringing safety, security and love, but life would never quite be the same for any of them. Throughout his life, Joe prioritized security above all else. Extravagances such as color televisions, automatic transmissions, second bathrooms and air-conditioning were slow to find favor with Joe, but when they did, he appreciated them like few who had not grown out of this experience could. This rigorous fiscal discipline would stay with Joe for the entirety of his 89 years, serving as a sterling example for his progeny along the way. Thank you, dad.
Following graduation from Boise High School in the mid 1940’s, he attended Boise Junior College, and began his career with Idaho Power Company. Two years later, in 1950, he was drafted into the Korean war, where he served as a Military Policeman, or MP. While being an MP was a serious job during a serious conflict, it was sometimes hard to tell from the many amusing stories he delighted in telling us over the years about his time in the army. Upon completion of his military service in 1954, Joe returned to America and moved to California, where all his siblings had landed and started their adult lives. Joe worked as an electrician for two years in California, but Idaho was calling him home, so he returned to Boise, re-started his career at Idaho Power Company, and met and married the mother of his children, Karen Arlene (Judy) Freytag, on August 4, 1956. Three children would follow: son, Joe, and daughters; Janet and Jessica.
In 1965, Joe accepted a position with Idaho Power in Jerome, Idaho, which would remain home for the next fifty-plus years. One year later, baby Jessica would be born, completing the family. Being present for the growing up of his children, something his own parents did not experience, was a big deal to Joe, and he did his best to capture every significant moment on Super 8 film, which generations have subsequently enjoyed. Joe always stayed on the shot no matter what. As a result, all manner of minor incidents: bike wrecks, tumbles down hillsides, Yellowstone bears chasing in-laws, and a plethora of other unintentionally comedic moments, are forever captured on his reels, bringing great joy to his viewing audiences over his lifetime.
Joe and Judy would remain married until 1974, at which time Joe was released back into the wild. Hobbies ensued, centered around a love of kids, travel, nature, camping, motorcycles and photography. Over the next 37 years, Joe would put well over 150,000 miles on a variety of road bikes, visiting favorite places like Glacier National Park and Banff/Lake Louise with his riding buddies, many of whom have been awaiting his arrival in the great beyond for their next adventure together. When he wasn’t on his bike, he was often in his cars, taking his daughters to see the beautiful places he’d discovered on his motorcycle trips. His photography of Yosemite National Park is the stuff of family legend. Once, during a slide show of a recent trip to Yosemite (which he delivered from a Boise hotel room where he was staying for an Idaho Power event honoring retirees) he showed the family so many slides of Yosemite’s Half-dome that we all threatened a mass walk-out if he showed even ONE more slide of it. He couldn’t help himself, and did, but we stayed regardless (dammit). There was always an abundance of passion in Joe for the things he loved.
While Joe never remarried, he shared many a happy year with Rose Hutchinson of Jerome. Rose got a kick out of Joe, and he thought the world of her. It was fun to see them together, as she had a way of dealing with him that diffused his Irish-Italian forcefulness. Joe mellowed much during the Rose years, and we were all just fine with that, and so appreciated he had again found love.
Within a few years of his kids beginning their married lives, Joe retired, freeing up time for his newest passion: grandkids. All-in, he would have twelve, and boy, did he love them all. Joe loved to take then on excursions; the shooting range was a favorite destination. Day trips to some scenic point of interest was another, usually with a meal involved, and usually always with a hilarious post-mortem from the kid’s perspective. Joe’s grandkids were blessed to spend as many as thirty-four years with their grandpa (twenty-one years more than Joe was able to spend with his own parents) and no one appreciated that fact more than Joe himself.
Whilst raised a Methodist, Joe migrated to the faith of his Italian father and was baptized a Catholic in 1990, attending St. Jerome’s whenever he has able. In his later years, with financial security assured, Joe became a committed giver, supporting a long-list of charitable concerns. Beyond his parish, Joe had a soft-spot for organizations that helped at-risk young people, and though he never discussed it much, we never had to wonder where this passion had its origins, given his own early years.
Joe was preceded in death by parents, Ralph and Pearl; brothers, Ralph and Sherman; and the folks that took him in after his parents passed away, Thomas and Minnie Mays.
He is survived by his sister, Marie Busco of San Leandro, California; son, Joseph Jay (Lorraine) Fascilla of Eagle, and children, Alex of Boise, Emily of New York City, and Annie of Boise; daughter, Janet Marie (John) Lothspiech of Jerome, and children Sarah (Nick) Porter of Steven’s Point, WI, Anthony of Moscow, Matthew of Boise, and Joey of Boise; and daughter, Jessica Jane (John) Funcheon of Indianapolis, Indiana, and children, Elizabeth (Gustavo) Gonzalez of Indianapolis, Mary of Indianapolis, Luke of Moscow, Katherine of Indianapolis and Matt of Indianapolis.
A Vigil service will be held at 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Farnsworth Mortuary, 1343 S Lincoln Ave, Jerome, Idaho. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 am, Friday, March 9, 2018 at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, 216 2nd Ave E, Jerome, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial donations in Joe’s name to Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Centers in Boise are most appreciated: https://giraffelaugh.org/make-a-donation/
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Joe’s memorial webpage at www.farnsworthmortuary.com.