In Memory of




Obituary for William Joseph Paglia

In loving and devoted memory
William Joseph Paglia, devoted father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend passed away peacefully in his Needham, MA, home on Monday, February 6, 2023, after a brave battle with kidney disease. Will was born on August 15, 1937, and was the son of Biaggio and Tosca (Mariti) Paglia. Will is predeceased by his wife of 35 years, Marion Karpinski Paglia, whom he often referred to as “the bravest woman I know.” Together they raised two daughters, Donna
Paglia, and Laura Paglia. 
Will (although some new him as Bill) grew up in Staten Island, NY, and raised his girls there for most of their youth. As a child, Will and his four siblings enjoyed a simple upbringing with immigrant parents that significantly contributed to him learning many life-long skills. They lived on a small farm growing their vegetables and raising their chickens and rabbits. Through his father, Will developed his love of gardening and, as he would say, “digging in the dirt.” There was nothing Will couldn’t fix, grow, or build. He did his plumbing, electrical, and masonry work and even hand-dug a complete French drain around the entire foundation of their Staten Island home. At 84, Will was teaching his grandchildren how to chop wood. He was Donna’s personal landscaper until June 2021. During his daughter’s teenage years, he spent much of his time repairing cars, which included replacing brakes, clutches and performing auto bodywork due to the impeccable driving of his girls, all while trying to stay sane. 
He completed his undergraduate and graduate degree at Wagner College on Staten Island. After earning his undergraduate degree, he was drafted into the US Army, where he served as a radio operator and engineer from 1960 to ’62 with the combat engineers. Will was known to harass every chef in the Army. His Army buddies recalled hearing him ask the cooks to “please undercook my eggs,” “can I have my hamburger mooing,” and “take that pork chop off the grill now. I like mine pink.” He was a true connoisseur of good food, so much so that in the 1970s, his CB handle was the Galloping Gourmet. After returning home, Will took advantage of the GI Bill to earn a master’s degree in social work. After graduate school, he taught school and was a social worker for the City of New York. 
He and Marion were well-matched. They shared an extreme curiosity and found ways, on a limited income, to visit many museums, historical sites, and national parks. On three separate summers, they packed up their girls and left for 1 to 2 1/2 months on camping trips covering 48 states and much of Canada. On their travels, if they heard of a barbecue festival, strawberry gala, or a Baptist church fried chicken BBQ, you could bet they would be there, dragging their girls with them. They would often be fish out of water, but they didn’t mind. They loved meeting new people, often making new friends.
Will eventually took a job running a 1,000-bed homeless shelter for the City of New York Department of Social Work in Chester, NY. When he moved his reluctant girls off Staten Island to Slate Hill, NY, his daughters referred to it as his “Amish phase.” He raised his own barn, installed a wood-burning stove, raised honeybees and pigs, tapped maple trees, had a plus 1/2- acre garden, and grew apples, plums, asparagus, and artichokes. He built the huge barn all by himself. He would often say, “I love digging in the dirt, “Eat closest to the earth,” and “I would have loved to have been a gentleman farmer.” He regretted never getting some goats as he said, “they are fun and productive.” At his side, he had his girls chopping wood, building stone walls,
collecting walnuts, and canning tomato sauce. One of his goofy sayings, “Many hands make light work.” was a phrase he used when forcing his children to stack firewood. His daughter Laura commented, “It was not until high school that I realized society prescribed different roles for men and women and that men often received preferential treatment because up until that point, our parents had raised us to do everything, even how to box!” Will was a loving father but had high expectations and preached the importance of education to his girls. He and Marion saved every cent they could to put their girls through college and graduate school, often denying themselves many things. Will also constantly educated his girls about money – he would say,
“live beneath your means” and “think about how much that Starbucks costs after tax.” He taught them the magic of compound interest, how to properly use a credit card – “earn points and pay it off every month!” - and to always max out your 401K.  
He and Marion spent their summers on the Jersey Shore with family and friends, most of whom they had known since 2nd and 3rd grade. Will and his brother John were always fixtures at the beach and owned/operated one of the hottest nightclubs on the Shore, The Casablanca, during the 80s and 90s. Their friends were loud, funny, and at times irreverent – perhaps once or twice being asked to leave a restaurant (oops). In the 80s, Marion and Will were the King and Queen of Trivial Pursuit on the beach. Their childhood friendships developed into lifelong relationships resulting in a “chosen family” for them and their daughters. They and the Deutschs have a “Thanksmas” tradition that has brought them together to celebrate Thanksgiving and an early Christmas for many years. Thankmas likely continuing its outrageousness as
multiple generations live on. Uncle Willie was the source of many a good joke during those celebrations.
When they retired, they chose Myrtle Beach for the beach, the weather, the golf, and most importantly, “the affordability.” During their time there, Will did not give up his passion for growing his produce. His fruit of choice became the persimmon which he also made into a jam. His golf game improved, but he never ever shooting his age. 
Any friends and family who have spent a good amount of time with Willie have most likely heard many “Willie-isms” spew from his lips, such as “I’ll have a coff of cuppee,” “That shows to go ya,” and his unique way paying a compliment, such as “Oh Pam, you don’t look as bad as the last time I saw you!”. If you spent enough time with him, you may have even understood comments like “We gotta take the thing back to the place,” and yes, that is really something he said, and it was understood.
In the 20 years since Marion’s passing, Will’s life has mostly revolved around his family and close friends. During Donna’s strict bedrest, he waited on her for 15 weeks, resulting in 2 two beautiful grandchildren, twins Grant and Sienna DeSutter. His most critical role for the last five years has been as Papa to Grant and Sienna. He has been their interview subject for school assignments, shared stories with them about growing up during WW2, emphasized the value of education, and taught them about money and the importance of curiosity. He practiced Spanish with them, challenged them with vocabulary, and attended their sporting events. He was utterly amazed at Sienna’s newly developed skills and playing abilities on the ice rink, having never played hockey before. He traveled with them on several vacations. One of the final big trips was to London in 2020, where he rode a bike at 82 through traffic from downtown to Hyde Park. He had a truly unique relationship with his son-in-law Matt DeSutter. They were good friends, who discussed politics, the Federal Reserve, international relations, and cooking. For the last six months, Will has been doing his celebration of life victory tour- seeing all his family and old friends from his elementary school to his beloved Jersey shore beach crew enjoying martinis and laughs.
Donna and Laura are proud of how he lived his life to the end, with little fuss, and on his own terms, always encouraging his daughters to live their own lives. Since they were little, their parents told them they could do and be anything, and both embraced that challenge given the encouragement they received from their parents. In true Paglia fashion, he spent his last weekend smoking cigars, eating Rigatoni Abruzzi, enjoying a Five Guys burger, and going to Dim Sum for dumplings and pig’s feet. He also had his last martini with the whole family and visited his favorite exhibit at the zoo, the gorillas.  
There will be no service or celebration as he and the family held living memorials where he enjoyed cocktails and food with friends and family; in his words, “Life is for the living.” Will, Dad, Papa, you will live on in our heads and our hearts.  Thank you for giving us this gift of curiosity, the ability to ask questions and think for ourselves, the appreciation of a good meal, the capacity, and fortitude to tackle problems on our own. In
lieu of flowers, Will would prefer and appreciate donations to the American Heart Association
(in memory of his wife, Marion).