Obituary | Joseph Roche exemplified the spirit of his beloved Westerns

Red rose on grave
Longtime Jacobi nurse Joseph Roche passed away on March 19 at the age of 67.
Photo courtesy Getty

Joseph Roche loved his Westerns. The stories of battles between good and evil, the scenic backdrops and the stage presence of one John Wayne enamored Roche throughout his life.

It was fitting that after Roche rode off into the sunset in March at the age of 67 after a long debilitative battle with Parkinson’s disease, that his family and friends remember him as a man who battled the disease with the toughness of a slick-shooting sheriff at showdown and exhibited his care through actions.

Roche, a longtime Bronxite, died peacefully on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, one of his favorite days of the year.

While Parkinson’s took a toll on Roche’s physical and mental abilities — a disorder that his brother John Roche describes as not only tough to suffer from, but also tough to watch a loved one go through — it never quelled his love for Westerns, as he watched them almost exclusively at the Providence Rest nursing home in the Bronx.

Joseph Roche

For John Roche, his brother’s fascination with Westerns makes sense.

“At his wake and burial, it occurred to me why; at least why I think that’s why he wanted them on in the background,” said John Roche, a former editor and associate publisher of the Bronx Times. “In Westerns, things like honor and loyalty and fairness and courage matter, and can be worn like a shiny sheriff’s star on the chest. And in Westerns, no matter the challenges and difficulties and tough breaks and unfair circumstances that the good guys face, they somehow always manage to win in the end.”

Despite a “gruff” exterior, Joseph Roche dedicated much of his life to helping others as a registered nurse at Jacobi, both in the ER and the hyperbaric department. And for his family, he leaves with a special legacy that would make the daring cowboys of the Wild West proud.

“Something to think about in retrospect is all the lives he helped save, and all the lives he touched, often when people were most in need of help, during his decades at Jacobi, especially in the ER,” John Roche said. “I think that’s a special kind of legacy, not only from what Joe did but also who he was.”

More than that, Joseph Roche will be remembered for his passionate and loyal support of the local New York sports team, especially the New York Football Giants. But he is also known for the loving son, brother, uncle and friend he was.

Joseph Roche’s was buried on March 24 at St. Raymond’s Cemetery.

Joseph Roche is survived by his sister Kathleen and her husband, Henry Piccoli; his brother Laurence and his wife Marian; his brother John Roche; nephews Kyle Roche, Steve Roche, and Richie and Henry Rocco Piccoli; nieces Maureen (Piccoli) Kazura, Kaitlyn Piccoli, Maura (Roche) Wall, and Abigail and Jillian Roche; along with several great-nieces and great-nephews, as well as a slew of friends.

He was pre-deceased by his parents, Larry and Maureen Roche, and his sister Elizabeth.

This story was updated on April 7 at 7:37 p.m.

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