Joseph Edward Renga
Sometimes we wake up and have an almost undetectable feeling that our world has changed. If you happened to feel something Thursday morning November 10th that wasn’t related to the election you were right. A very special man, maybe not a local “legend” but most definitely local, had passed from us the night before. Joe is gone. Joe Renga. J.E.R.. Joseph Edward Renga. Dad. Grandpa. Great grandpa. Papa Joe. One of the last artisans in the upholstery, fabric and drapery field is gone. Chances are somewhere in your home there is a signature item that he had a creative hand in. Joe moved to Santa Barbara with his parents in the late 1930’s and learned his trade working with his father and uncle in the family business Renga Brothers. He storied of the early days: racing his Model A backwards down State Street; local cops making sure he drove home safely after a few too many; his part time job as a bellman at the Barbara Hotel and the secret vices of its celebrity guests. Joe graduated Santa Barbara High School at the end of World War II. As a Military Policeman in post war Germany he saw history as a guard at the Nuremberg trials. He also may have helped save more American lives with a flashlight and Popsicle stick than with bullets. His other war assignment was inspecting female refugees for venereal disease. Joe rarely lost his temper unless you were screwing around during a poker game or the kids were too loud during the same.
Loved vodka Gibsons. “Up. Two onions and none of that expensive stuff.” He also took every opportunity to take power naps. No chair was safe. Give him a few minutes and the snore choir was in the house. He is even rumored to have fallen asleep at traffic lights. Always there for his family with a “what do you need.” He will be missed by so many. If Joe touched your life in some special way, order a Gibson in his honor (cheap stuff please) the next time you’re out for cocktails. And if by chance the car in front of you doesn’t move when the light turns green, give a little toot on your horn. The driver might be an old guy taking a snooze.
Joe and Helen’s cherished contributions to our world: five children, thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren (so far).
Celebration of Joes life will be held at Calvary Cemetery on Hope Avenue December 10 at 11 a.m.