Joe Celentano
Joe Celentano

Obituary of Joe Celentano

Joe Celentano, long-time Regina resident, died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, May 16, at the age of 86 years. Born Sept. 20, 1928, in New Haven, Connecticut, he was the only child of Fred and Anna Celentano. Joe was a world traveller, entertainer, and public speaker. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1946 at the age of 17 and served for 20 years, travelling to many parts of the world. While in the Navy, Joe attended Journalism school in Chicago and found a passion for public relations. In 1959, the Harlem Globetrotters were in Hawaii, where Joe was stationed. Their referee, a key part of the team and entertainment, was ill, and they were in desperate need of a replacement for a show that evening. Abe Saperstein, founder of the Globetrotters, contacted the Navy, and Joe’s people skills, love of an audience, and knowledge of basketball (which he gained during high school and in the Navy) were a perfect match! Joe found his calling that night, and made such an impact that Abe offered him a job. In 1965, after retiring from the Navy, Joe officially joined the Globetrotters as their referee and travelled the world for 10 more years, this time as an entertainer. It was while in Edmonton for a Globetrotters show that Joe met the love of his life, Sandra, at a mutual friend's party. A month later, Joe and Sandra met up in Hawaii while Sandra was vacationing with a friend and Joe was doing a Globetrotters show. They started a long-distance relationship, Joe based in Las Vegas and Sandra in Edmonton, and they fell head over heels in love. They married in March 1975, and Sandra joined Joe for a month in Italy and Spain on the last leg of a Globetrotters tour. After establishing their home in Regina, Joe decided to travel one more tour with the Globetrotters. But, after just three weeks, he missed Sandra so much that he promptly resigned and made his way home across North America by bus, finding a way around a major airline strike, to be with her. Joe embraced Regina as his home and was very active in the community during his 40 years here. He worked at Woolco at Northgate Mall and Alford Floors, he was General Manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, General Manager of the Romanian Club, and Coordinator for the National Women's Volleyball Team. And he travelled the province speaking at banquets and school functions (and to whomever would listen!) about his experiences and travels. He was so fortunate that friends, charities, and others invited him to do that as he loved to be the centre of attention. He helped to start the Goulet Golf Club in 1990 and was a pillar at the club until he became ill in 2013. He also guided tours as a volunteer at the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Joe was predeceased by his parents, Fred and Anna. He is survived by his wife, best friend, and caregiver, Sandra, as well as his extended family: Dorothy Dreger (Sandra's mom), Eunice Hannah (Sandra's sister), and Kelly Hannah (Sandra's niece) and her fiancé, Warren Jung. Joe also leaves behind many friends around the world. Special thanks to the RQHR Area 10 Homecare team and to the friends who supported Joe and Sandra the last couple of years when Joe’s health was failing. Joe always liked to have the last word. So, at Joe’s request, there will be no funeral service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made, in Joe’s memory, to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, 2205 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK S4P 0S4 or www.sasksportshalloffame.com Joe was spirited, loyal, and a wonderful storyteller. We will miss his stories and big personality. No matter what life brings to you, You'll have the strength to bear it, As long as you have love to give, And someone who can share it.
Share Your Memory of
Joe