Joseph Leporace, 79, of Huntingdon Valley, an engineer, developer, and entrepreneur, died of lymphoma Friday, Dec. 23, at home.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Leporace established NDI Engineering Co. and was later president of Wavetech Inc. in Pennsauken. The firm was sold in the early 1990s.
In 1989, he developed Landmark Plaza, a shopping center in Bensalem where he opened Celebrations, a banquet facility, and LaCena Ristorante. In the 1970s, he operated Villa Anna Ristorante in Northeast Philadelphia. He also owned Celebrations Limousine in Richboro.
Over the years, he developed various projects in the Philadelphia area, his wife, Marie Albanese Leporace said, including two office buildings in Pennsauken. "He loved making a deal," she said.
Mr. Leporace was born in Roggiano Gravina, Italy. At 15, he and a sister and his mother joined his father in New Jersey. In a year's time, he learned English and completed elementary school, his wife said.
After graduating from Penns Grove High School in Salem County, he served in the Army in Germany.
Mr. Leporace earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Temple University in 1957 and worked for engineering companies in Philadelphia before establishing his own business.
He was active with Italian American organizations, including the Northeast Philadelphia Chapter of UNICO Nationale and the Association Regionale Calabrese. He was president of San Francisco DePaolo and was past vice president of the Cavalieri Society of Italy.
Mr. Leporace was the recipient of several honors including the 2002 Premio Calabria America Award.
He loved his family, friends, America, and Italy, his wife said. The couple visited Italy four or five times a year and maintained a home in Calabria.
Besides his wife of 52 years, Mr. Leporace is survived by sons Ralph and Joseph Jr.; a daughter, Annamarie Frusco; and five grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, at St. Albert the Great church, 212 Welsh Rd., Huntingdon Valley 19006. Friends may call from 9 a.m. Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Park in Feasterville.
Donations may be made to the church.