Joe Vennari, 38, sold homes, golf champion

May 24, 2002

Joe Vennari, a former state amateur golf champion who was a salesman for Ryan Homes in Martinsburg, W.Va., died of heart failure Sunday at his residence there. He was 38, and formerly lived in Catonsville and Columbia.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Garden Ridge Road in Catonsville, he attended St. Mark Parochial School. As an Atholton High School junior, he won the state high school golf championship, known as the Junior Boys' Amateur, in 1981 -- the year he also captured the Middle Atlantic PGA Junior Golf Championship.

He was a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., where he played on the golf team.

In 1978 Golf Magazine ranked him No. 4 in the country in its category of players age 13 and younger. He won the state amateur tournament, the Men's Amateur, in 1987, and qualified for the U.S. Amateur in Jupiter, Fla., that year.

In the early 1990s, he worked with his father, Alexander David Vennari of West Palm Beach, Fla., in operating a pizzeria.

In addition to his father, he is survived by his mother, Sue V. Green of Point of Rocks; two brothers, Michael Vennari of Charlotte, N.C., and Nicholas Vennari of Stuart, Fla.; and his maternal grandfather, Dale Wagner of Clarksburg, W.Va.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church, 27 Melvin Ave., Catonsville.

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