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Joseph "Joe" Batali, Jr.

May 21, 1936 - May 25, 2017
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Joseph J. Batali, Jr., 81, of Yakima, passed away on Thursday, May 25, 2017. At his side was his wife Shirley.

Joe was born in Yakima on May 21,1936 to Annie (Merlino) and Joseph J. Batali, Sr. Joe’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy. His grandfather, Sebastian (Isola) Batali, homesteaded in Harrah, (1914) after working as a coal miner in Butte, Montana. His maternal grandfather, Angelo (Antoinette) Merlino, was a coal miner at the Black Diamond mines (Seattle), then started the Metropolitan Grocery in Seattle (1900), eventually opening Angelo Merlino & Sons Italian Importing Store.

Joe grew up on the Batali family ranch in Harrah. He learned much from his father about agriculture and enjoyed the Italian heritage his family shared. His relationships with his cousins/relatives were remembered fondly.
He and Shirley (Zier), were married June 20, 1964, and had two children, Jorene and Michael.  Shirley grew up on her parent’s farm. Together Joe and Shirley lived on a small hobby orchard of pears and apples, as farming was in their blood. Joe loved his grandchildren; Connor, Elise, and Tanner dearly. He had a very special bond with his granddaughter, Elise, who passed away April of 2015 after three years of cancer treatment. She was his “CHAMP” and he would frequently talk about her strong faith in God and how she embraced the illness that challenged her. Two years ago, his grandson Connor asked Grandpa to be his confirmation sponsor which happened on April 23 of this year. Grandson Tanner loved his Grandpa’s hugs. Joe cherished his time with his children and their spouses.
Joe graduated from Marquette High, CWU, and completed post graduate work at WSU where he was a member of Phi Delta Kappa. He shared fond memories of his time in the Army Reserves, holding rank of Second Lieutenant.
In 1959, Joe began his 32-year career in the Mt. Adams School District teaching at Harrah Elementary; principal at Robertson Elementary in White Swan; Assistant Administrator at the District Office and then Superintendent. He began his career at West Valley School District as an Assistant Superintendent (1972) then Superintendent (1976), which he identified at his retirement in 1991 as “demanding and rigorous”.  Although his job demanded much of his time, he instilled in his children the importance of identifying values and being professional.
During his time as superintendent at West Valley, the annual budget grew from $2 to $18 million, employment increased by over 200, student population increased by over 500, the junior high was built, high school expanded, Wide Hollow school replaced, and Cottonwood initiated. In his letter announcing his retirement, he wrote “I cannot close this letter without thanking the certificated staff, all teachers, specialists, counselors, building administrators, and central office people, for their dedication and loyalty as I have proceeded through my years at the helm. My respect for these people will continue into my retirement years”. When he retired in 1991, he was honored by a community celebration.
He received the “Golden Acorn” award from West Valley PTA, the Washington Association of School Administrators “Award of Merit” for “effective leadership in public education and for significant contributions to professional associations”. He was proud when West Valley Jr. High was awarded as one of ten schools in the nation the “USA National Excellence Award – Outstanding Secondary Schools”. He was recognized by the Washington Association of Education Office Personnel as “Administrator of the Year” (1991), for “support of education office personnel and his contribution to the statewide educational system”.
Joe loved to drive his family in his Ford Model A 1930 sedan and 1931 truck. His granddaughter, Elise, was especially fond of her rides with Gramps. His family has fun memories of road trips across the country, bike rides, trips to theme parks, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, and multiple trips to Seattle to visit with family. For the last 14 years, Joe enjoyed RV trips with his wife, occasionally meeting up with their kids and grandchildren. Joe enjoyed going RVing to Cannon Beach where he loved to just look at the ocean. Many friendships were developed through those trips.
Joe was reunited with many friends from Harrah and White Swan, where his legacy began, at his surprise 70th birthday party in 2006 at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center.
Joe supported his children in their various activities. He served in many community and professional organizations. He was a recipient of his 60-year pin from the Yakima Elks Club. After Joe’s retirement, he served on the Comprehensive Healthcare Board, Yakima Elks Lodge Scholarship Committee, and Yakima Valley College Foundation Board.
Joe’s faith in God was very evident through the many times he was faced with the demands of his job. He constantly let others know of his gratitude to his wife for being by his side—he truly loved Shirley. He appreciated the doctors and nurses that listened compassionately to his concerns and provided his medical care. The love Joe provided to his family through his many challenges brought his family closer together which provided a very honest and positive “growing up” experience. He often could be heard saying “We move forward”.
Joe emphasized the good in all people he met. The family extends a special thank you to the people who over the years made a point to express their appreciation of Joe’s service to his community.
The family thanks Beth Palmer, RN, (“Shirley’s negotiator”) at North Star Lodge. Beth’s desire to listen comprehensively to concerns reassured the family of her interest in ensuring that compassionate and quality care was provided; her skill in navigating medical needs greatly helped Joe, Shirley, and their kids through the last six months.
He is lovingly survived by his wife, Shirley, his daughter Jorene (Rudy), his son Michael (Michelle), grandchildren (Connor—16 and Tanner—6), brother Gene (Brenda), niece Gina (Bryan and son Bryson), nephew Brent (Lenila and daughters Tiana and Serena), and cousins.  Joe is preceded in death by his 11-year old granddaughter, Elise in 2015, parents, brother Marco, and sister Antoinette.
Visitation will be Thursday, June 1, 2017 starting at 4:30 p.m. at Brookside Funeral Home, 500 W. Prospect, Moxee, with a Vigil starting at 6 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will be Friday, June 2 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church.  Burial will be at Terrace Heights Memorial Park at 3:30 p.m.
The family suggests that memorials be made in Joe’s honor, to organizations that help severely ill children and their families.

Funeral Information

Funeral service

Jun 2, 2017:10:30 a.m.

Holy Family Catholic Church

5315 Tieton Drive, Yakima




Terrace Heights Memorial Park

Yakima, Washington