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Posted by Keith Delgado at Nov 29, 2006 4:00PM PST ( 0 Comments )
THOMAS: Wareham's Joe Caf will be missed Buddy Thomas His official retirement date was June 30, 1995. That's the day Joe Cafarella was supposed to walk away from Wareham High School for the final time. In reality, the man everyone knew as "Joe Caf" never left. Retirement may have taken the man out of Wareham High School, but nothing could take the school he so dearly loved out of Joe Caf. Another chapter in a storied career had been written — memories of a teacher, coach and athletic director all spanning an unforgettable 28-year journey. But the final chapter wouldn't be written until Nov. 22, 2006, when the man so many had come to love passed away. Joe Caf was just 67, and from all reports, died peacefully at home. Joe was born in Cambridge but grew up in Somerville, where he played four years of football, basketball and baseball before moving on to Providence College on a partial baseball scholarship. He was a power-hitting outfielder, and in his senior year set a Friars' single-season record for home runs with seven. His goal was to play major league baseball, but Uncle Sam threw him a curve. The conflict in Vietnam was beginning to heat up and the military draft was beckoning. Having already received a couple of deferments to enter college, graduation had left him vulnerable. Within months, Joe was drafted into the army and on his way to Fort Riley, Kansas, where fantasy would eventually give way to reality. Although his vision of reaching the big leagues was fading, Joe continued to polish his baseball skills as a member of his division's baseball team. Athletics had always played a prominent role in Joe's life, but reality had tempered that dream. Joe came to the realization his dream was a longshot, and because he still wanted a future that would include athletics, he began to think about a career in teaching which, in turn, could possibly lead to a future in coaching. He took a first giant step in that direction by enrolling in nearby Kansas State University and when he was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia Joe continued his studies in education at a nearby college. Following his discharge, Joe took a position with the Rodman Job Corps in New Bedford, where he served as a business teacher in the morning and councilor in the afternoon. After hours, he coached the Corps' basketball team. Joe remained there until its closing in 1965. The following fall he came to Wareham High School as a math teacher, and seven years later succeeded Al Palmeiri as the school's director of athletics. I don't remember when I first met Joe Caf, but once he became AD, we hooked up frequently. He was business-like and almost stoic in his role as athletic director, but to the people of Wareham, he was known as a devoted friend. In his 23 years as athletic director, Joe upgraded the athletic program by adding seven new varsity sports to the girls' program, putting them on a par with the boys. Outside of school he coached the town's Teener and Cranberry League baseball teams, started the American Legion baseball program and, in 1976, he was appointed general manager of the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League, a position he held for eight years. He eventually turned over each of those duties to a successor, and when he walked out of Wareham High School on that summer afternoon in 1995, even Joe thought it would be for the final time. But 226 days into his retirement, Joe Caf came walking back in. With Buddy Carlson taking over as the Wareham AD, the school was left without a head baseball coach. Viewing it as an opportunity to rekindle his ties with the school and continue his relationship with his first athletic love, Joe applied for the position and was quickly hired. He remained in that capactity for a handful of seasons before calling it quits for good. Joe had many fond memories, most of them centered around his adopted home town and the people who lived there. I never heard him utter a bad word about anyone, but more importantly, I've never heard a bad word uttered about him. Rest in peace Joe Caf and know that you'll be missed. Buddy Thomas' column appears on Thursday in The Standard-Times. Contact him at
Joseph D. Cafarella Jr. WAREHAM -- Joseph D. Cafarella, Jr., 67, of Wareham, died November 22, 2006, at home. He was the widower of the late Judith M. (Kaberry) Cafarella and the son of the late Joseph D. Cafarella, Sr. He was born in Cambridge and grew up in Somerville. Mr. Cafarella graduated from Somerville High School in 1957 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Providence College in 1961, where he played 3 years of Varsity Baseball. After serving over 3 years in the United States Army, he began his teaching career at the Job Corps in New Bedford. Mr. Cafarella starting teaching Business Education at Wareham High School in 1966 and was the Athletic Director and Baseball Coach for 30 years before retiring in 1995. He lived in Wareham for over 40 years. He had been the General Manager of the Wareham Gatemen and was instrumental in establishing the American Legion Baseball League in Wareham. He was a member of the Wareham Athletic Association. He was an avid University of Notre Dame & New England Patriots Football fan. He was a communicant of St. Patrick's Church. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends and especially his grandchildren. Survivors include his mother, Josephine (DiRenzo) Cafarella of Rochester; a son, James Cafarella, M.D. and his wife, Kimberly of Folsom, CA; 2 daughters, Stephanie Cafarella of Wareham and Julie Silva and her husband, Dennis of Plymouth; a brother, Frank Cafarella of Marion; his mother and father-in-law, Estelle and Claude Wheeler of Grafton; 3 grandchildren, Dennis Silva, Jr., Erica Silva and Adam Cafarella; several nephews and nieces. His funeral will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006, from the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 2599 Cranberry Hwy., (Rt. 28), Wareham followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. in St. Patrick's Church, Wareham. Burial will be in St. Patrick's Cemetery, Wareham. Visiting hours are from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday. Donations in his memory may be made to Wareham High School Athletic Department, 7 Viking Dr., Wareham, MA 02571. WE WILL MISS YOU COACH!!!