Sitting in the private dining room at The Hearth at Tudor Gardens in Zionsville, IN, Joe makes sure to keep the door open so that he can acknowledge every resident that passes with a warm hello and welcoming smile. He doesn’t mind interrupting what he is doing to go out of his way and make others feel welcome. This is just the kind of guy that Joe Claretto is. He’s the guy who could make conversation with anyone. He is a social butterfly and active within the community. We took some time to sit down with Joe and learn a bit more about Joe’s life, who he is and what the key happiness is.
Joseph E. Claretto “Joe” is 83 years old, turning 84 next month. He was raised in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was just his mom, dad and him so that’s why he says he is so spoiled! The summer before 7th grade, Joe started working in the neighborhood pharmacy where he found his passion for pharmaceuticals. He became a pharmacist and later on managed this same pharmacy as an adult. He also owned his own pharmacy for 20 years. He made sure to tell us that these neighborhood pharmacies used to have a counter top that sold ice cream and other treats along with the medicine.
Joe married Martha Jean and says it was the best gift he ever received. He wanted to make sure we included both names. He joked that they always knew it was a telemarketer calling when they would only ask for Martha! He and Martha Jean had 3 sons. All three of his children ended up following in his footsteps and are working in different areas of the pharmaceutical industry today. While Joe worked 50-60 hours per week at his pharmacy, one of his favorite hobbies was spending time with his family and being very involved in his son’s lives.
We made sure to ask Joe what his favorite memory is:
“We took a 10 day boat trip on the Amazon River; myself, Martha Jean, and friends! We took a large commercial flight to where we were going but had to take a puddle jumper to the actual boat. The puddle jumper landed on a dirt strip that made everyone nervous. At the point on the river where the boat was docked, the river was so wide you could not even see the other bank. By the time we got to the point where the boat turned around to start its come back, the river was so narrow the boat hardly had room to turn around!”
Joe mentioned some other trip highlights especially how amazing the sky was at night. With almost no electricity in the area, the stars shone so brightly. It was incredible. He also pointed out the amazing birds and the dense foliage. The group also went piranha fishing and was warned not to put their hands in the water. But probably the thing that stood out the most to him were the people from the villages that they would meet when they went into towns. Now, going through towns meant walking through the jungle. There were no roads just trails and most people didn’t live with electricity. These people had absolutely nothing. But they were so nice that it gave him a great appreciation for what he had. Joe stated this memory as a favorite but it was hard for him to choose. He said he had so many wonderful memories and mentioned how many wonderful places he was blessed to have seen.
We asked Joe if he had any regrets in life or anything he wish he would have done when he was younger. At first he couldn’t come up with anything but then after a bit of prodding, he recalled a trip that he had taken to Italy with his wife and sons family. They visited a village in Italy where his grandparents had lived in before immigrating to the States. He did wish that they had taken the time to go to Rome during that trip.
Joe says the key to happiness is enjoying every minute of life and that life is what you make it, so keep going and keep smiling. Joe isn’t bothered or weighed down by what others may think of him. He just has to answer to the good Lord.
We asked Joe if he had any hidden talents. He said unfortunately no but made sure to inform us that when he was a child, his parents had him take accordion lessons in hopes that he would become a famous accordion player. Needless to say, it didn’t work out!
To wrap up, we asked Joe what he loves about living at The Hearth at Tudor Gardens. He said “I enjoy living at The Hearth. This is as close to living in my own home that it could be. I think the staff is wonderful and very helpful. I feel as though everyone here seems really close.”
We want to thank Joe for taking the time to share about his life with us. We also would like to thank Tracy, the Activities Director at The Hearth at Tudor Gardens, for helping us build the story of Joe Claretto.
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