1934 – 2013
Services for Joseph Gatto to be held Monday (UPDATE)The family of Joseph Gatto will hold a funeral for their father on Monday, November 25, 2013, at 10:00 am, at Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church (2060 North Vermont Avenue) in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.Public parking for the service will be located at Greek Theater, Lot #2,2700 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027Shuttles will be provided between the Greek Theater and Our Mother of Good Counsel Church.A prompt arrival is suggested. Limited seating for the elderly and disabled will be roped off near the front of the sanctuary.In lieu of flowers, the Gatto family requests donations be sent to one of their father’s three favorite charities:(1) The Historic Italian Hall Foundation (125 Paseo De la Plaza, Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90012; 213-485-8432)(2) The Los Angeles Community Garden Council (4470 W. Sunset Blvd. #381, Los Angeles, CA 90027; 323-942-WORM)(3) or, The Tuition Magician, Attn: Joe Gatto Arts Scholarship (4470 West Sunset Blvd. #378, Los Angeles, CA 90027)The Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation into Gatto’s death is ongoing.
“Non qui parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est.” ~Seneca
Joseph Anthony “Joe” Gatto was born Dec. 22, 1934 in Pueblo, Colo. His father was an immigrant coal shoveler and steelworker. His mother was a devoted homemaker who later worked in the garment industry. After World War II began, Joe’s father took a job with the Air Force in Oakland and the family moved west, staying with cousins in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Eventually, the family settled in East Hollywood.
Joe attended Fairfax High School and lettered in four sports. On the football team, Joe’s quarterback was Jack Kemp; on the baseball team, his pitcher was Larry Sherry.
Joe started working as a bagboy at a grocery store at a young age to help support his family and save for college. After turning 18, Joe served in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington. After the Army, he returned to Los Angeles where he graduated from California State University at Los Angeles. He later earned masters degrees from Pepperdine University and Cal State L.A. Joe was the first Gatto to graduate from college.
“Interea dulces pendent circum oscula nati, Casta pudicitiam servat domus.” ~Virgil
In the early 1960s, Joe traveled the world, visiting all of Western Europe and places like Russia, Egypt and Japan. In 1967, he saw a beautiful blonde walking down the street and quickly backed up his Porsche and got her number. The two were soon married. They had three children – Nicole, Michael and Mariann.
“Sed rusticorum mascula militum proles, Sabellis.” ~Horace
For much of his career, Joe worked three jobs: he taught high school during the day, college classes on weekends, and sold concessions at Dodger Stadium in the evenings. At various times throughout his career, Joe was as a professor at Otis Parsons, Art Center College of Design, California State University at Northridge, and Cal State L.A. In 1985, he became one of the founders of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and served as dean of the Visual Arts Dept. for years. His students went on to greatness in many fields. To name a few: Jenna Elfman, Joshua Groban, Kehinde Wiley and Christina Milian. As a testament of his love for teaching, Joe continued doing so long after his pension would pay him 100% of his final salary; he therefore worked for free. In over 47 years of teaching, Joe never missed a day of work.
For his dedication and teaching acumen, Joe was awarded the Bravo Award as California Arts Teacher of the Year in 1986. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush honored him two years in a row at the White House, in 1988 and 1989. He was selected as both the California and Pacific Region art educator of the year in 1990. In 2004, he was elected as a John Kerry delegate to the Democratic National Committee, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Joe also loved to write. He authored many books, covering subjects like photography, drawing, design and the art of cities. His books, including “Exploring Visual Design,” were used as classroom textbooks from Canada to Texas.
In addition to his dedication to his vocation, Joe found time to grow produce in his elaborately terraced organic garden. He grew everything: peaches, apricots, plums, grapes, tomatoes, squash, corn, artichokes, peppers, Asian pears, figs, beans, oranges, lettuce, melons, carrots, eggplant, avocados, et cetera, and always shared them with friends and neighbors. He grew just about all the produce he ate, and predated the home organic-farming movement by four decades. His produce and preserves are legendary among friends and family.
“Homines dum docent discunt.” ~Seneca
Joe tried to live the values he taught. He was active in his parish, raising thousands of dollars for Our Mother of Good Counsel School and serving as a Eucharistic minister to the sick.
Joe lived life to the fullest. He liked music, cooking dinner for his family, restoring antique furniture, speaking the Italian language, reading and garage sales.
After he retired, Joe finally pursued his passion – creating art. He played music with his grandson and painted with his granddaughters. He made elaborately handcrafted jewelry and traveled the nation exhibiting it in museums and at shows. Joe’s jewelry was featured in several magazines. One week before his death, one of his rings won a prestigious jewelry-design award. After decades of putting aside his art for his family, Joe Gatto had finally “made it” as an artist.
“Vita enim mortuorum in memoria est posita vivorum. Perficite ut is quem vos inscii ad mortem misistis immortalitatem habeat a vobis.” ~Cicero
Joseph Anthony Gatto is survived by his brother Frank and his wife Linda; brother Dominic and his wife Mavis; daughter Nicole and her husband Mark; son Mike and his wife Danielle; daughter Mariann and her fiancé Eric; grandchildren Damian Joseph, Elliana Vivienne, and Evangelina Felicity; his former wife Isolde, and countless cousins, admiring students and loving friends.