1935 – 2014
FALMOUTH — Joseph Ferri, 78, of Gray, died peacefully at Sedgewood Commons in Falmouth on Tuesday morning, Feb. 25, with his wife, Linda, by his side.
Joe was born in Fulton, N.Y., on Oct. 28, 1935, the only son and youngest child of Mary and Michael Ferri. He spent several years in Newburgh, N.Y., and settled in Gray in 1938. Joe continued to live in Gray, staying close to his family and friends.
He graduated from Pennell Institute in 1954. While at Pennell, Joe established himself as a strong and competitive athlete, excelling in both baseball and basketball. His talents weren’t limited to the ball fields, as during his junior year of high school he represented the state of Maine at the Key Club Association’s national convention in Los Angeles.
Joe attended Portland Junior College, before enrolling in Gorham State Teachers College (now the University of Southern Maine) in 1956. He studied elementary education, where he met his lifelong loving partner, Linda Johnson, of Rockport. The couple were inseparable on campus, and were married the summer after Joe’s graduation. Joe became a member of Kappa Delta Phi and as a result developed lifelong friendships which he enjoyed throughout his lifetime. This group of friends became fondly known as “The Gang.”
After graduating from college, Joe started teaching mathematics in the Windham school system. In addition to his teaching duties, Joe focused his love of sports on coaching and became the Windham High School girls’ basketball coach for several seasons.
Joe went on to earn his master’s degree in special education from USM. He joined the staff at Pineland Hospital and Training Center in 1964, serving in various capacities and eventually becoming the superintendent. He worked at Pineland until its official closing in 1994. He was presented the Maine State Department of Mental Health’s Commissioners Award after serving the state for 30 years.
Joe couldn’t sit still during retirement and continued working as a consultant for the state for five years, helping to streamline services and reduce costs for the Augusta Mental Health Institute.
A natural born leader, Joe was a member of the Kiwanis Club in Windham and served a number of years as president of the Crystal Lake Association. He also served 10 years as president of an AVESTA housing development in Gray.
His love of sports endured throughout his life and he excelled in any sport he chose to play, whether it was baseball, basketball, skiing, golf or tennis. He enjoyed coaching local kids in Little League and intramural basketball, and his teams were known for winning championships year after year.
Joe referred to golf as “an old man’s” game, taking up the sport near his retirement. He fell in love with it and went on to win several senior league championships. He enjoyed summers on the lake and winters in Fort Myers, Fla. During his winter trips to Florida, he enjoyed attending Red Sox winter training sessions and rubbing elbows with the athletes, boating, playing golf and spending quality time with his family and friends.
Joe had a warm and devilish sense of humor — his household was filled with laughter and light-spirited kidding. Valuing modesty and humility, Joe never took his talents too seriously. Instead, he focused his energy by encouraging others. His cheerful disposition, paired with a quick wit, afforded him many friends around the country and abroad.
Joe always impressed upon his family the importance of education and encouraged us to constantly strive to attain more knowledge. To him, a good education was priceless and the key to leading an authentic and productive life.
Joe is survived by his wife of 54 years, Linda, of Gray; daughter, Rebecca F. Orr, of Kennebunk; sons, Joseph A. of Gray and Michael R. and fiancée, Janet Pniewski, of Warrenton, Va.; grandchildren, J. Benjamin and Janina Ferri of Portland and Nicholas and Ian Ferri of Warrenton, Va.; sisters, Anne Egbert of Portland and Betty McKeown of Biddeford; brother-in-law, Richard Ayer, of Winthrop; and many dear nieces and nephews.