Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Joseph Guggino

Tampa grocer Joseph Guggino, a decorated, wounded WWII veteran

TAMPA — If you look at Joseph Guggino's life from a distance, it may seem he had a lot of tough breaks.

He was a pretty brainy kid and spoke three languages. But then his father died when he was only 12 or 13, and he had to quit school to start working to support his family.

He eagerly enlisted in the Army in World War II and was awarded several medals before getting wounded by a grenade in the Philippines. After his recovery, he wanted to return to action, but the Army sent him home.

Mr. Guggino opened Joe's Grocery in Belmont Heights in Tampa in the 1950s, but the neighborhood went downhill. He was robbed at gunpoint several times, even beaten and locked in the store's bathroom. He finally gave up the store and found other work when he was in his 60s.

If he had any complaints, no one who knew Mr. Guggino ever heard them.

He had served his country, and been married for more than 50 years. He and his wife, Mary, raised three daughters. To him, that was a profoundly successful and rewarding life.

"The two things he was proudest of were being decorated and wounded combat veteran, and being a family man," said his daughter, Sandra Guggino.

Mr. Guggino died Feb. 15 of natural causes after a few weeks of declining health. He was 97.

Except for his war years, he lived his whole life in Tampa. He grew up in West Tampa, surrounded by immigrant families, and spoke English, Italian and Spanish from a young age.

It was in West Tampa that he met lifelong friend Sam Fraterrigo. They enlisted in the Army together, served side by side and were even wounded about the same time. For many years afterward, they met once a week at the Fourth of July Cafe to trade war stories and discuss local politics.

Mr. Guggino was in his 40s when he married. His daughters said he doted on them so much, even when they were adults, that it bordered on being embarrassing. Cathy Clifton recalled one rainy day when she was working downtown and her father drove to her workplace to give her an umbrella.

He absolutely insisted they get the education he never could.

"There was one thing he was adamant about, and that was that we all go to college," Clifton said, "There was never any question about it. We were all going to finish college."

In about 20 years at the grocery store, he never had an employee. He worked all day, six days a week, and was its butcher, cashier, stock boy, janitor and accountant.

A rash of robberies forced him to close in the 1970s. He took a job at Meals on Wheels, where he worked for another 10 years or so.

"He would have liked to have retired and just relaxed," Sandra Guggino said. "But that just wasn't in him at that time. He had three daughters to put though college."

Marty Clear can be reached at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.

. Biography

Joseph Ippolito Guggino

Born: June 23, 1913.

Died: Feb. 15, 2011.

Survivors: Wife Mary; daughters Sandra Guggino, Angela Guggino and Cathy Clifton; sister Angie Rebowe; and two grandchildren.

Tampa grocer Joseph Guggino, a decorated, wounded WWII veteran 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With Friday's opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story in the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  2. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.



  3. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  4. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  5. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.

    Consumer

    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times