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Josephine “Jo” Paolini (Occhino), 93, of Buffalo, NY and Mansfield, MA, passed away peacefully on January 8, 2024 at her home at The Villages at Willow Crossings, Mansfield, MA, with her family at her side.
Jo was born in Buffalo, NY on July 12, 1930 to Joseph and Rose Occhino. Her life was a testament to the power of compassion, dedication, loyalty, selflessness, and faith. She was raised in the Catholic faith and graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy. Upon graduation, Jo attended the University of Buffalo and was employed at American Optical Co. until she met her husband, Pasquale. The two were married on May 5th, 1951. Her marriage was marked by love, dedication, and support for her husband and 3 children, as she fulfilled the role of “homemaker extraordinaire”.
In 1967, the family moved from Buffalo to Winchester, MA, where her husband continued his career with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company while Jo transitioned her family into their new surroundings. She was active in the community and was always eager to help with any school activity. She and her husband returned to the Buffalo area to be closer to family, until his untimely death in 1995. Jo showed her strength and perseverance as she spent the next 29 years as a widow. She was constantly on the go with family activities, volunteering at the senior center and working at the Clarence High School as a study hall monitor. It was there she earned the nickname “Silver Fox” and became a trusted friend, mentor, and confidant to many of the students.
Jo returned to Massachusetts in 2010 to be closer to her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She enjoyed many activities, along with her dear friends, such as knitting, bridge, tai-chi, and weekly lunch gatherings. She was also a Literacy Volunteer, engaging her students in discussions about current events, language, or just life in general, and they treasured their experiences with her.
Jo moved into The Villages at Willow Crossings in Mansfield in 2021 where she continued her very active social life. Although she was petite in stature, her personality was robust. Known for her chic looks and decorated walker, she always had a smile and words of encouragement and praise for the staff and fellow residents. She happily joined in any and all of the daily activities, but especially liked winning at Bingo.
Her greatest joy was spending time with her family, who affectionately called her “Gwen” or “GiGi”. She was always excited for events like shopping with the girls, cookouts, super bowl parties, impromptu dinners, baking Christmas cookies, and her annual Memorial Day Family Weekend. “Gwen’s” love of family shined through always. She never missed an opportunity to be in-touch, through phone calls, cards, and notes. She was compassionate, loyal, non-judgemental, loving, and kind, and was truly loved by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Jo was the loving mother of Jeanette Keating and her husband, Jim, of Sharon, Camille Paolini and her wife, Maria Annunziato, of Mansfield, and her son Pat and his wife, Claudia, of St. Augustine, FL, loving grandmother to Erica Dunn and her husband, Tom, and her adoring great-grandchildren, Jonah and Yvette Dunn, of North Attleboro.
She is survived by her brothers Frederick Occhino and John Occhino and their families, and was predeceased by her sister, Rosalie Occhino. She will be sadly missed by her many other family members, nieces, and nephews, and friends.
A funeral service will be held on February 10, 2024, at Southeast Funeral and Cremation Services, 93 Center St., North Easton, MA 02356. Visitation at 10am with service to follow at 11am.
Donations may be made to:
Benchmark Associate Holiday Fund
The Villages at Willow Crossing
25 Cobb St.
Mansfield, MA 02048