Joseph Peraino Sr. had been loved at the Rosa International Middle School in Cherry Hill, where he worked as the head custodian, earning the respect of staff and students alike.
That had been his favorite job, Mr. Peraino said in a video he made after he retired in 2011, completing a career of about a decade with the Cherry Hill School District.
On Wednesday, Dec. 10, after losing a battle to cancer, Mr. Peraino, 74, died at his Voorhees home, surrounded by family, according to his daughter Agnes, who shared a home with her parents.
As much as he loved his job, Mr. Peraino spoke most fondly of his family, saying that marrying Anna Castelli, who became his wife of 50 years, was his greatest accomplishment.
"I hope I can be remembered as a good dad and father to my children," Mr. Peraino said in the three-minute video.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Peraino began working at an early age. In his video, Mr. Peraino recalled delivering newspapers, earning a penny for each copy of the Evening Bulletin he delivered. Later, he purchased his grandmother's store in South Philadelphia for $2,500 and ran it for a year before his mother took over.
He spent much of his career running various automobile businesses in South Philadelphia, including a salvage lot. But he loved the action inside casinos and moved his family to Reno, Nev. There, he spent about five years as a poker dealer and running a gold and silver exchange store, his daughter said.
The family returned to this region in the mid-1980s. In his later years, his daughter said, Mr. Peraino wanted a steady job, and found his new career in the Cherry Hill schools.
He loved the custodian's job and generously supported student fund-raisers, his daughter said.
"He just had a very big heart," said assistant principal Maureen McHale, who had known Mr. Peraino since she started at the school 10 years ago.
The students, she said, liked and respected him, as did the staff. He enjoyed helping the students whether their lockers jammed, or they were fund-raising. After he retired, Mr. Peraino visited the school often to keep in touch.
Agnes Peraino asked her father to make the video after he suffered a series of illnesses. He had a heart attack, and triple bypass surgery, before doctors discovered the cancer that eventually spread to his liver.
After finishing chemotherapy, Mr. Peraino made his last trip to a casino Dec. 2. He was hospitalized shortly afterward, but requested to go home last Wednesday. His family from near and far arrived to his bedside. Hours later, he died, his daughter said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Peraino is survived by another daughter, Pamela Buzzetto, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Joseph Jr.
Services will be private.
Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.