Joseph D'Ascenzo, 94, General Motors electrician

March 10, 2003

Joseph D'Ascenzo, a retired electrician and longtime Highlandtown resident, died Thursday of heart failure in Morehead City, N.C. He was 94 and lived in Swansboro, N.C., for the past 18 years.

Born in New York City, Mr. D'Ascenzo moved to Potomac Street in Highlandtown when he was age 5. He attended St. Mary's Industrial School. During World War I, he earned money delivering military mail for troops traveling through Baltimore.

As a young man, he worked several jobs, including a nine-month stint as a Hoover Dam construction worker, a coal miner in West Virginia and an amateur boxer.

"He would stand in line and he would take whatever odd job he could to support his family," said his daughter, Charlene Hahn of Great Bridge, Va.

For 35 years, Mr. D'Ascenzo worked as an electrician for the General Motors Broening Highway plant in Southeast Baltimore. He retired in 1972.

In 1944, he married Edna Foster, a telephone operator who survives him.

Two years ago, Mayor Martin O'Malley gave Mr. D'Ascenzo VIP tickets to an Orioles game after his daughter requested them when Mr. D'Ascenzo learned he had cancer.

"That game was so very special to him," she said. "He remembered it for the rest of his life."

Mr. D'Ascenzo was a member of the Arbutus Lions Club and Arbutus Baptist Church. During his retirement in North Carolina, he spent his time keeping up his 4-acre waterfront property.

"He was the little, jolly guy that everyone loved. He had such a positive outlook on life," his daughter said. "He was a supportive father. He was always there for us."

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at First Baptist Church of Swansboro.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. D'Ascenzo is survived by another daughter, Maria Dickey of Lake Ridge, Va.; a brother, Matthew D'Ascenzo of Baltimore; a sister, Sarafina Sodaro of Towson; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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