Dr. Joseph P. Cozza, DDS., age 77, of New Hartford, passed away on Saturday January 20, 2024, at the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, with his loving family by his side.
He was born in Utica on July 20, 1946, a son of the late Paul and Rose Rintrona Cozza and was a 1964 graduate of TR Proctor High School. He then went on to graduate from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1968, then NYU School of Dentistry in 1972. Joe joined the United States Navy and served for two years as a Lieutenant practicing dentistry; First in Parris Island and then stationed in Puerto Rico with the SeaBees. Upon returning home, Joe worked with George Riley, DDS. before opening up his own practice in Utica in 1976. In 1984, Joe started a partnership with friend Charles Guerra, DDS opening a practice on Hobart Street in Utica and then one in Waterville. Joe retired in March of 2020.
On November 10, 1979, he married Sharon Conway at St. Mary’s Church in Clinton, NY. They shared a blessed union of love for 45 years. Proud to have been from East Utica, Joe grew up surrounded by a large extended family while his parents owned and operated Rintrona’s Bakery on Bleeker Street. Witnessing his parent’s devotion to their business established the foundation for his strong work ethic and encouraged him to become a lifelong learner. A student and an athlete, Joe enjoyed playing softball in his youth and later spent his free time playing golf with close friends. Joe was also a talented orator, a highlight of his later years was when he was asked to give TR Proctor’s 75th commencement graduation speech in 2012. Joe was well known for his wisecracking wit, which entertained his loved ones after every dinner party, and he took center stage at family weddings when he was asked to officiate. Joe’s hardworking nature expanded beyond his Dental practice, he took pride in maintaining his beautiful family home, making certain that he always had a well-manicured lawn and freshly paved driveway. Family and friends could count on seeing him as they passed by the house, tending to his property and planting garlic in his garden. That freshly grown garlic added a special touch to the traditional Italian dishes that Joe would help his wife, Sharon, lovingly prepare; He was her sous chef, as Sharon would call him! Joe and Sharon carried on many of the family food traditions, specifically on Christmas Eve, practicing the same devotion to feeding their family that Joe’s parents exemplified in their home. Joe’s most important role was as a father to his two vibrant, loving daughters, Catherine and Joanna. He was a constant source of wisdom and guidance for them. He taught them the fundamentals of life, providing invaluable insight into building stable futures and leading them to all of the success they have today. During the summers Joe looked forward to taking his boat out on White Lake and fishing with his grandchildren. Joe relished in quality time with the kids, playing wiffle ball and watching them run around his backyard. Maddie, Joey, Jack, Ben, and Emmy affectionately called him “Pop.” His children feel fortunate that he has had a strong presence in his grandchildren’s lives. Joe’s family took precedence over everything. Through the years they made incredible memories together, cooked and ate countless meals, laughed heartily, argued passionately, and loved each other fiercely. Joe’s spirit and memory will live on through them all.
Surviving are his beloved wife Sharon, his daughter and son-in-law, Catherine & Mark Bolos of Whitesboro, and their children Madeline, Joseph, and Jack, his daughter and son in law, Joanna & Steve Suraci of Clifton Park, and their children Benjamin & Emilia, his sister and brother in law, Theresa & Martin Maio of New Hartford, his aunt & uncle Ruth & John Fanelli of Utica, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Theresa & James Cavo of New Hartford, Elizabeth & Stephen Pennoyer of Washington, Michael & Anne Conway of Clinton, MaryEllen & David Welchons of Clinton, Roseanne & Stephen Shablak of Rome, Kathleen Applegate of West Winfield, Nancy and Cosmo Castellano of New Hartford, Robert and Nancy Conway of Clinton, Margaret and James Clifford of New Hartford, and Patrick and Pam Conway of Clinton, and numerous nieces and nephews whom he adored; Also his dear cousin and best friend, Joseph Rintrona and his wife Bette of Old Forge. Last, to Joe’s many dear friends who have been by his side and whom he has shared many wonderful times with- you know who you are. Joe was predeceased by his parents Rose and Paul Cozza, in-laws, John and Ellen Conway, brother and sister-in-law, Louis & Theresa (Rabbia) Cozza, and brother John Cozza, brother-in-law Robert Applegate, cousin Peter Fanelli, nephew Stephen Conway and great niece, Meg Wasley.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday January 27th at 11:00 am in Mary, Mother of Our Savior Church (Our Lady of Lourdes Campus) 2222 Genesee St. Utica. Private interment will be in St. Agnes Cemetery.
In memory of Joe, please consider making a donation to his late great niece, Meg Wasley’s, Smile Foundation, for children battling cancer or to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. Please visit https://megsmile.org/ to make your donation. Envelopes will be available at the Mass.
Arrangements by Scala & Roefaro Funeral Home Inc. 1122 Culver Ave. Utica, under the guidance of David Roefaro and Stephen Karboski, Directors.