dad, Joseph Francis Fusia, the fourth of five boys for his parents,
Donald Anthony Fusia and Aileen Larson Fusia, was born on May 29, 1927
on the kitchen table in their home on
Allegheny River Boulevard
many in the Fusia/Fusca family, Joe had thalassemia, which was passed on
to his three children. Joe
was sickly as a child and his mother warned him that if he ever got
pneumonia, it would kill him because he was not strong enough to fight
was a mischievous child in school and told many stories about his
run-ins with teachers. One
day, little old Miss Lulu King actually tackled him in the cloak room.
Another teacher, Miss Ekas, called him “elf ears,” because of
his slightly pointy ears.
home on the Boulevard, which also housed his dad’s medical office,
became too small to hold the family of five rambunctious boys; so the
family moved up Pennsylvania Avenue to Fourth Street, right next door to
the Raymond family and Joe’s future wife, Janet.
high school, Joe was athletic and played football and basketball.
He suffered a big toe injury during a football game, which caused
him pain his entire life, until he finally had surgery to repair the
torn ligament when he was 75 years old.
1945, during the spring of his high school senior year, Joe joined the
navy to do his patriotic duty for the country during World War II.
He was on a ship docked in
, getting ready to head out to
when he became ill with catarrhal fever and had to stay in the base
infirmary while his shipmates headed off to war.
war ended and he was able to come home.
He started his college education at the
. Then, with a degree in
Biology, he applied to both the Pitt dental and medical schools and was
accepted to the dental school. On
the first day of classes he was told that they had an opening in the
medical school, and he switched to that program.
had fallen in love with his next door neighbor sweetheart, Janet Carol
Raymond. The two wanted to
marry and start their life together, but Joe’s dad refused to allow
the marriage to take place until after Joe finished medical school.
On December 19, 1951, during Christmas break of his second year
of med school, Joe and Janet snuck off to
to get married. They had
told their friends and families that they were going to downtown
to go Christmas shopping. Joe’s
buddy, Herb Flynn, asked to tag along to get his Christmas shopping
done. On the way, they told
Herb their real plans, and Herb said he would go along and be their best
man. Herb kept the secret,
and no one found out about the marriage until the day Joe graduated from
two and a half years later. In
the meantime, Janet stayed in her house next door and came over to sit
with Joe every night while he studied.
began working with his father in the office on
Allegheny River Boulevard
. After six months he
decided to partner with Ted Ferguson, and the two opened a general
practice office on
. Joe and Janet bought a
, a couple miles from the office, and lived there for about 10 years.
This was the only time that Joe did not live in Oakmont.
and Janet spent a great amount of time playing with their nephews Donny
(older brother Don’s son) and Tommy (older brother Tom’s son).
Both boys still look up to them as their second parents.
They started their own family, when I, Megan Elizabeth, was born
January 8, 1957, the year my dad would turn 30.
Tod Joseph followed on September 13, 1958, and Tyler Andrew
arrived on June 28, 1961.
brother, Tom, had married Janet’s sister, Betty, so there was a double
bond between the Fusia and Raymond families.
Tom and Betty’s children, Tom and Kim, were double cousins of
Megan, Tod, and Tyler, sharing ancestors and genetic history on both
sides of the family. And, in
the mid 1980’s, after having been transferred every few years for his
job with G.C. Murphy Company, Tom arranged a final transfer to
Pittsburgh and made a deal with Joe and Janet’s next door neighbor to
purchase their home, bringing the Fusia/Raymond brothers and sisters
was active for years with the Kiwanis Club in
, attending their meetings every Thursday night.
The three of us kids were treated to TV Dinners of our choice on
those Kiwanis nights. We
thought that was just the neatest thing.
of meals, I wonder if any other family in the history of the world has
had such wonderful, regular family meals. For my entire childhood, we
had every meal together as a family, and I mean breakfast, lunch, and
dinner. We all had breakfast
before dad headed off to work and the kids to school.
Then dad would come home for lunch every day, and we kids walked
home from school for lunch. Dinner
was at 5:00 on the dot every night, and every Friday was spaghetti
1965, Joe and Janet bought a new house on
in Oakmont, and we moved back to the family town.
Soon after that, Joe, along with his brothers Jack and Ed, bought
a vacation home on
. We had many years of fun
with our cousins at the lake. Joe
loved fishing, sailing, and boating.
That home was sold in 1983. We
really missed our fun times at
, and in 1995 I found a house to rent there, and we have spent a week
every summer since then with my parents and Tyler and his family.
dad was the school doctor for Oakmont.
When he retired, Joe took over the job.
He stopped in at the various Oakmont, and then Riverview (after
the merge with
), school buildings every day before he headed to his office in
. The students and teachers
loved him. He was well known
and greatly respected by everyone in Oakmont.
Joe made house calls every day.
He frequently went out in the middle of the night to meet a
patient at the office or at their home.
He often let us kids tag along with him to the office in the off
hours. We got to see a lot
of interesting cases. He
always had good stories at the dinner table about cases he had seen that
day. When his patients
called the office after hours, the recorded message gave our home phone
number to call, and Joe would go in to the office at any time of day or
night to sew up a laceration or to put a cast on a broken arm.
parents and their son, Jack, moved back to their house on
Allegheny River Boulevard
after the other boys were grown and gone.
His dad continued to see patients in his home office for many
years. As his parents got
older Joe stopped in every day to visit and take care of anything they
needed. On Jack’s birthday
in February 1977, Joe was there to visit when his mother suffered a
fatal heart attack.
partner was ready to retire in 1997, and even though Joe was not yet
ready for retirement, they decided to sell the practice to the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
I had my first son, and my dad’s first grandchild, my dad became
something new: Pa Joe.
Conor was 2 years old and heard my mom yelling for “Joe” to
come to dinner. Conor
started yelling, “Joe” and the name stuck as Pa Joe.
dad was a Renaissance man.
He was always reading and learning new things and taking on new
hobbies. He was in a bowling league for years and was a member of the
Elks Club. He shot trap and
skeet and had a collection of guns.
He was a game inventor (dice games Tennis
Anyone, and Ready, Aim, Fire,
and a card game, Bible Bridge).
He sculpted with clay, whittled wood, and could draw a great
caricature. He knew how to
do card tricks and play the accordion.
He also taught himself how to play bagpipes.
After he retired, he said that he had always wanted to play the
piano, so he taught himself to play.
He became interested in bells and read everything he could find
about bells. He then joined
the bell choir at his church and played for a couple of years.
was a scholar of the Bible and attended Sunday School classes and Bible
study groups, and was active in the Oakmont Presbyterian Church. He
could remember and tell jokes like a comedian. He became interested in
shooting with a bow and arrow. One
day he set up a target in the back yard, but was afraid that if he
missed the target, the errant arrow would hurt someone, or something, so
we found him shooting the bow out of his second story bedroom window,
down to the target in the back yard, so that if he missed, the arrows
would go into the ground. He
would read books on every subject imaginable.
He could talk to anyone about any subject and was interested to
listen to and learn from everyone.
had a lifelong love of golf. In
his retirement years he had a foursome with the 3 Toms: his brother Tom,
and two friends, Tom Gregg, and Tom Locklin. My
dad always had a funny story about their adventures on the golf course.
Joe and his brother were so speedy, they could play 18 holes in
under two hours.
brothers and I are so lucky to have had the best parents.
We are so proud of them and respect them.
They provided everything that we would ask for.
They allowed us to do just about anything we would ask, because
they had raised us to know not to ask for anything unreasonable.
1999, my mom was hospitalized with pancreatitis, and my dad spent every
waking moment in the hospital watching her and making sure that she was
getting the very best care. She
spent three months in the hospital and then a nursing home for a while
until she came home. He
became hooked on a soap opera, The
Guiding Light, while watching with my mom while she recuperated.
He watched that faithfully every day and made sure he was home
from golf or whatever activity by 3:00 so that he would not miss his
story. He finally stopped
watching it in 2007 when they changed the broadcast time
to 10:00 and he could just not fit it into his morning schedule.
In 2006, when my mom had open heart surgery, he again spent every
moment with her at the hospital.
never missed a day of work, but my dad had his share of medical problems
after he retired. It started
with cataract surgery and then surgery for a bowel obstruction.
He realized that he could survive surgery, so he finally had the
toe fixed that he had injured in high school.
He was diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which lead
to Temporal Arteritis. He
had to take steroids to deal with those conditions, and the steroids
caused him to become diabetic.
in August of 2007, a routine blood test showed something was wrong.
His doctor called to say that he had Leukemia.
It turned out to be a very deadly form, Acute Myelogenous
Leukemia. He suffered
through a few rounds of chemotherapy and weekly or daily blood
transfusions. Two days
before he died he was in the back yard hitting golf balls to try to get
ready to play a round with his brother.
Joe passed away on May 8, 2008.
Fusia always enjoyed himself. Every
meal was the “best meal” he ever had. He
was proud of his talented grandchildren (six grandsons and two
granddaughters). And every
game that he watched his grandchildren play (football, basketball,
baseball, hockey, tennis) was the “best game” he ever saw.