Joseph P. Ciriello Jr.

December 5, 1942 ~ August 6, 2021 (age 78)


La Vita di Joe Ciriello

After living each day by his favorite motto, ‘Be the Best You Can Be, Everyday’ and celebrating ‘La Gioia di Vivere’, Joseph ‘Joe’ P. Ciriello, Jr., 78, of Pawcatuck, CT, passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, August 6, 2021, surrounded by the love of his family.  Born in Waterbury, CT on December 5, 1942, he was the son of the late Joseph P., Sr. and Charlotte (Harper) Ciriello, and was the loving husband of his lifelong best friend and bride, Sandra (Gagne) Ciriello, whom he started dating when he was 14 years old. 

Joe started many things in life at a young age, and quickly became an accomplished multisport athlete competing in Basketball, Football, Baseball, Boxing, and Tennis, and was honored as a member of the Waterbury Boys Club Hall of Fame.  He would go on to play college basketball for Central Connecticut and professionally for several leagues including the Eastern League where he competed with former NBA greats.  His love for sports and passion for helping others in his community, led him to pursue a career in education and coaching at Stonington High School in 1975.  Most notably, he was head coach of the Boys basketball team for 28 years and Girls tennis team for 13 years.  He was part of 27 ECC titles during his tenure and coached 4 Connecticut high school All-Star basketball games.  Joe also coached and impacted thousands of high school and collegiate players at basketball camps throughout the US, and he also served as a professional scout for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. 

For over 30 years he taught Health, Physical Education, and Life Skills to his students.  A lifelong learner, Joe worked to re-imagine and re-define these subjects as co-chair of the state’s Curriculum Committee.  Throughout his career in education, Joe would practice and preach the importance of ‘listening to learn and learning to listen’.  In retirement, he put his coaching and communication skills to work as a mentor to student-athletes, and as a life coach to former players and members of the community who could always rely on Joe to guide them through the crossroads of life and help them choose the right path forward. 

Joe’s passion for coaching and education, was only matched by his love of nature and appreciation for the beauty of life in the outdoors.  At a young age, his ‘Uncle Earl’ taught Joe to live and survive in the wilderness of western Connecticut, while respecting and sustaining the environment around him. He became an accomplished fisherman, a technical mountain climber, and an active volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club.  In his adopted home, he became an integral member of the Stonington Land Trust executive board and led initiatives to protect and preserve the natural beauty of his community, reclaiming and restoring indigenous trails and unique landscapes for the public to experience.  While he spent most of his life in Stonington, his heart was always in the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.  He summitted Mount Washington over 60 times and spent many years sharing his hiking adventures with his family and friends, and especially with his beloved grandchildren. 

In addition to his loving bride Sandra, he leaves his daughters Andrea and Linda, son-in laws Gintas and Mark; his grandchildren Alexa, Benjamin, Celina, and Julia; his sisters Charlotte and Eileen, and nieces and nephews: Fallyn, Jason, Jeffrey, Kathryn, Ryan, and Shayna.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be mailed via check to the ‘Joseph P. Ciriello Scholarship Fund’ care of, Caroline Wall of Wells Fargo Financial Advisors, 86 Denison Avenue, Mystic CT 06355.

To celebrate and honor La Vita di Joe Ciriello, calling hours will be held on Sunday, August 15, 2021 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at the Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home, 121 Main St. Westerly, RI 02891. 

The following day, a memorial mass will be held at 10:00am on Monday August 16, 2021 at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 44 Elm St. Westerly. 

All are invited to meet directly at the church.

The family kindly requests and requires that you wear a mask before entering the Funeral Home and Church, thank you for helping to keep our community safe.

For online condolences, please visit

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be mailed via check to the ‘Joseph P. Ciriello Scholarship Fund’ care of, Caroline Wall of Wells Fargo Financial Advisors, 86 Denison Avenue, Mystic CT 06355.


August 15, 2021

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home
121 Main St.
Westerly, RI 02891

August 16, 2021

10:00 AM
St. Pius X Church
45 Elm St.
Westerly, RI 02891

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