It isn’t the two-week visits to family in Connecticut, or the trips to Long Island to see their uncle that the Sousa boys – Kevin, Michael, and Peter – remember most about their childhood vacations. It’s their father belting out Barry Manilow hits to his own unique lyrics during the five-hour car rides.

“He was a booming tenor, singing opera at full throat whenever he was in the car,” the family said in a tribute. “He had the incredible ability to convolute and improv, with fiery confidence, the lyrics of ’70s pop tunes. Barry Manilow’s ‘Looks Like We Made it’ became ‘Looks Like Tomatoes.’”

“He was just a presence wherever he was,” Michael Sousa said.

Joseph Sousa III, 81, died on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Brightview Devon of COVID-19.

A resident of Rosemont, within a stone’s throw of Villanova University’s South Campus, for 44 years, Mr. Sousa was a longtime executive and consultant for Amtrak. With his wife of 51 years, Terry, Mr. Sousa raised their sons and rose through the Amtrak ranks until becoming the executive director of purchasing for the East Coast.

Mr. Sousa retired from Amtrak in 2006 but returned as a consultant in 2009. A member of the New York Railroad Club for 35 years, he served for a time as its president, and was known around the Amtrak office for his style, integrity, ethics, quick wit, and memory.

Mr. Sousa and wife Terry on their 50th wedding anniversary.
Courtesy of the family
Mr. Sousa and wife Terry on their 50th wedding anniversary.

“I will always remember him in his J.A. Bank suits, Brooks Brothers shirts, shiny Melton shoes, with briefcase in hand, bouncing on his toes,” one colleague wrote.

Born on Aug. 5, 1939, Mr. Sousa was one of four children and grew up in the fishing village of Stonington, Conn. His backyard was the Atlantic Ocean, so his childhood was filled with swimming, sailing, and fishing. He met Terry Martini on a blind date in 1964, told her then they would marry, and they did five years later.

“They completed each other in ways that only they could understand," the family wrote.

Mr. Sousa loved to dance on family vacations, steam lobsters, and watch Villanova basketball. He served in the Army National Guard, attended Connecticut College, and worked early on at General Dynamics/Electric Boat in New London, Conn. A devout Catholic, he was an Affiliate of the Augustinian Order and a longtime lector at St. Thomas of Villanova.

His favorite activity was coaching his sons in soccer and Little League baseball, attending their football, basketball, swimming, and baseball events when they were older, and even later doting on his three grandchildren.

“He always suited up and showed up,” Michael Sousa said. “You don’t realize until you’re older all the things your parents do for you. That’s how it was with us. It’s very touching.”

Mr. Sousa is survived by his wife, three sons, and three grandchildren. His brother and two sisters died earlier.

– Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com