2012-12-20 / Obituaries

Joe ‘Papa Joe’ Falany

Long-time Mariposa resident, N. Joseph Falany Jr., known by friends and family as “Papa Joe,” went to glory to be with the Lord on Dec. 7, at the age of 91.

Born to Napoleon and Eva Falany in South Georgia in 1921, Joe was one of five brothers and seven sisters. He grew up in the backwoods and bayous and swamps of Georgia and Florida.

Joe joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school and had just finished boot camp when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. He was first commissioned to a ship in the North Atlantic for a short time and was then sent to the South Pacific for most of the war. During his time in the Atlantic, he met the love of his life, Marian Poor in Boston, Mass., whom he married just before the war was over in 1945.

His South Pacific ship, an aircraft carrier named the U.S.S Suwannee, received commendations for its class of ship for the most action in the war. On the morning of Oct. 25, 1944, in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, in the biggest sea battle in history, the Suwanee was hit by the first Kamikazes of the war. Joe, who was three decks down, was literally blown off the ship by the explosion. He suffered severe burns over most of his body and went through a lot of trauma, but he was one of the few overboard sailors that lived.

When the Navy finally released him, he and Marian married. They lived in Massachusetts for two years before they moved south to New Port Richey, Florida. In 1956, Joe and Marian moved the family to Turlock and bought a small farm. Joe founded Falany Fence Company in the late 1950s and became the largest commercial and industrial fence contractor in the Central Valley area for many years. He and Marian retired and moved to Mariposa in the late 1970s and built the beautiful Casa de Falany Ranch in Hunter’s Valley. Marian is still living on the ranch.

Married for 68 years, the Falanys have four children. Their oldest son Henry Falany with his wife Grace is a retired wild river outfitter and guide who now pastors a church in Mariposa. Their daughter, Susan Fitch is widowed and retired in Arizona. Their second son, Wade Falany with his wife Jean, is a boat captain now living in Snelling. The youngest son, Robin Falany and his wife Rhonda, is a fence contractor living in Hunter’s Valley. Joe is also survived by six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

After his time in World War II, Papa Joe’s entire life was dedicated to his wife and family. He worked very hard in his business to provide a good life for his family. He was a very loving husband, father and grandfather. He was also a blessing to all his friends and neighbors. He would literally give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it.

December 7, or Pearl Harbor Day, was a fitting day for Papa Joe to graduate. It was also the same day on which his mother died in 1974.

A memorial celebration service is being held on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. The service location is the Mariposa Senior Center, 5246 Spriggs Lane in Mariposa. Pastor Henry Falany of Mariposa Revival Center will be conducting the service. For more information call 742-6767.

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