Rockford says good-bye to Mr. Fourth Of July.
Joe Marino was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon, as family and friends remembered the Forest City native during an emotional visitation.
“I’ll take away a lot of good memories from the time that we spent with him,” said Joe Marino’s son Mike Marino.
It’s natural for a son to have many moments to remember about his dad, but Joe Marino didn’t just affect his family. He impacted generations. Marino says although his father was known for the Independence Day displays, Joe was in it for more than just lights in the sky.
“My dad’s best legacy really isn’t the fireworks or any of the other celebrations,” said Mike Marino. “I often tell people, he didn’t watch the fireworks, he watched people watch the fireworks.”
There were many hugs but also an abundance of smiles as loved ones shared memories they had with Marino. Among them was Tom Olsen, a member of Rockford’s Fourth Of July committee. He says Marino’s charisma made planning the grand event something to look forward to.
“Joe is a joy,” said Olsen. “He was very comical. He tells jokes and stories. He kept everyone relaxed even when it was tense for the 4th of July parade planning.”
During the service, Alderman Frank Beach spoke on behalf of Mayor Tom McNamara.The Rockford City Council member presented Marino’s family with a proclamation to mark November 28th as Joe Marino Day.
“We’re not going to forget this man,” said Beach. “When you go down and see his statue put up in his honor, you can know this man was loved by this community.”
Red, white and blue flower arrangements filled the room in honor of his holiday involvement in the Stateline. Mike Marino hopes his dad’s love for this community lingers long after Joe’s gone.
“It’s the changed lives and so everybody has the capacity to sew some good things into other people’s lives by being for them and rooting for them, not against them. That was my dad.”
The Marino family asks in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Rockford Fourth Of July Committee, an event Joe worked very hard to fund and plan.