Josephine Sunseri Rossi was born in Portland Oregon on Sunday, March 22, 1931. She had been told all her life that the date was the 23rd, only to find out upon retirement that her birth certificate was written down as the 22nd! Jo didn't mind, she celebrated both with glee. Her Father Rosario, had come to America from Italy, her mother Rose, was born in New Orleans. Where they met is not known to us, but they eventually ended up in Portland, Oregon.
Jo was the 3rd of four children. She had two older brothers Salvatore and August, and a younger sister Anna. Much of her early years are not known. Her home was not a happy one, and for a while she and her sister Anna spent time in foster care. As she entered her teen years, she enjoyed the fun-loving Rossi family who were neighbors. She knew them all, except one, as John was in the Army. They met, and were married in December of 1948 three years after the end of World War 2.
Her new husband was not a city kid. John had grown up in Scappoose Oregon, and loved the peace and quiet that nature provides. But Jo was a city girl through and through. They compromised, and land was found in SW Portland, where John built their house. It became their acre of home sweet home. Gloria was born 6 years later, followed by John, and Michael 7 years after that.
For John and Josephine, family meant everything. Many an evening was spent entertaining their siblings, or friends, with lots of suppers, and laughter around their table. Jo was very easy to tease so her husband and his brothers did their part to keep the good nature banter going into the evening.
Later when the kids were older, Jo got a job working for Fred Meyer, and that is where she met her dear friend Rosemary. Jo became godmother to Rose’s oldest son Steve, and Rosemary became godmother to Jo’s oldest son, John. Josephine eventually got a new job at the Crab Bowl, a seafood restaurant, and was there for 23 years before retiring in the early 90s.
Losing her husband in 1994 was a tough transition, but she met the challenge with determination and grace. She met frequently with her friends from St. Clare church, where she played Bunko, and went out on lunches. Jo eventually made fast friends with Ken and Ruby, neighbors around the corner from where she lived. Ken painted her house, and did many other projects to help Jo enjoy her little blue home for many years.
As she got older, it became apparent that Josephine could no longer live alone. She moved into her son John’s home full time in 2012. As hard as it was to give up that independence, she also enjoyed the hustle and bustle of at one time, a 4-generation household. Games or puzzles at the table, joking and laughter was commonplace.
Jo added humor in just about every occasion, and her ability to say something that would make the listener howl with laughter, was a true gift. She loved being social and people of all ages loved “Grandma Jo.” She also had another side. She loved her Lord and Savior, and the day before her death, firmly announced she on her way to see God.
Josephine leaves behind a family who now feel a very large hole. Her exuberance for life, her ability to make everyone laugh, will remain with us for the rest of ours. She is survived by her sister Anna, daughter Gloria (Dan), and sons John (Linda), and Michael (Martha), along with 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
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