Joe Romagnano

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News September 2014

We lost one of the great men of our organization earlier this summer. I came to know him well and learned from him. Joe Romagnano left us June 20.

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We lost one of the great men of our organization earlier this summer. I came to know him well and learned from him. Joe Romagnano left us June 20.

This last year it seems to me I’ve spent a lot of time paying tribute to men I knew during my tenure in the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Washington, D.C., office or as a national officer. As I’ve said before, I don’t like doing it. Not because they don’t deserve the honor, but because I can’t write words eloquent enough to honor them.

Joe was one of those men I met in unusual circumstances and came to respect, ask for advice and counsel not only because of his fairness and wisdom, but also his ability to be tough when fulfilling his decisions. The PVA Board of Directors recognized this and elected him to serve as national president in 1978. He served two terms.

Joe and PVA Publications were intermingled, which wasn’t commonly known. When PVA Publications Editor Bob Webb died, Joe was PVA President. Cliff Crase had been writing a sports piece for Bob. Cliff told me that Joe called him up and said he was going to be the new editor.

Cliff said Joe didn’t give him time to discuss it or go over the details, just that he was the new editor and they would iron out the specifics later. Joe’s wisdom showed, because Cliff served as editor for more than 30 years and grew the publication to be a greater magazine than it had been.

After I became editor when Cliff passed away, I would give my report during the question period that the staff members go through. Each time I knew I would be the recipient of questions from board members. Every time Joe would have a comment or question for me. If it was positive, I knew I was doing OK because Joe would tell me like it was.

In 1985 during my first term as national president, I started inviting past national presidents to PVA conventions. I knew where most past national presidents were or how I could find them. I had a hard time finding this guy named Romagnano. After some laborious research, I found he was in Germany working for the Army in their drug program.

Joe had a background in law enforcement. He retired as a lieutenant in the Mobile, Ala., police department in 1971 after 20 years of service. He subsequently went to work for the U.S. military. I called Joe in Germany and asked him if he was interested in attending a PVA convention. He replied positively and the rest is history.

From the early 1980s on, Joe was deeply involved in PVA serving where his needs were. His service at the Bayou-Gulf States Chapter level was tremendous. He took the chapter from a position of potential failure to one where it has been very successful.

PVA utilized Joe as the Chairman of the Judicial Committee, which is one of its most important committees and requires leadership and guidance demanding the highest integrity.

Unfortunately, that inevitable and undefeatable battle we all engage and we all lose decided to fight the fair and tough guy who had won his other fights. Joe couldn’t win this fight and in June of 2014, despite a hard battle, Joe left us.

Joe, I’ll always remember your quick response of “Yes!” when I invited you to the convention in 1985 and the service you’ve given the organization you love so much. Your willingness to do anything at anytime has helped make PVA the organization it is.

May the Lord bless thee and keep thee

The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

– Numbers 6:24-26


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