Cover photo for Joseph F. Pinto's Obituary
Joseph F. Pinto Profile Photo

Joseph F. Pinto

January 26, 1928 — April 5, 2023

Joseph F. Pinto

Emblem

Doctor Joseph F. Pinto of Plymouth, Michigan passed away on April 5, 2023 peacefully and in his sleep which he told us all was the way he wanted to leave this earth.  As was his wish, we believe he went immediately to find his loving wife of 53 years, Heather, in heaven. 

The legend of Papa Joe began when he was born in Amantea, Italy on January 26, 1928 to Pasquale and Giuseppina Pinto.  A self-proclaimed “stubborn pain-in-the-ass”, he vexed his poor mother, who raised Joe and his beloved older brother, John, virtually alone as Pasquale had moved to America before Joe was born.  For the first seven years of his life, he lived without a father, electricity, running water or common sense as he picked fights throughout his hometown and often tried to knock down his “enemies” houses with a stick (without any success).  In 1935, Pasquale had saved enough money that he brought Giuseppina, John and Joe to their adopted home in Dearborn, Michigan. 

As tough as life had been in Italy, his introduction to life in the US was just as hard.  Two weeks after his family’s arrival in the US, in the middle of the Great Depression, Pasquale lost his job and John and Joe were expected to help support the family.  Throughout his childhood, Joe sold newspapers, swept floors, drove mail trucks, sold records at the local department store and acted as translator for his dad for his various real estate endeavors.   In addition, while initially forbidden by Giuseppina from fighting in the United States, Joe took more than a few beatings from local bullies due to his Italian heritage.  When his mother finally understood what was happening, she allowed Joseph to “take the gloves off” and he quickly established himself as a “tough SOB” who would never back down from a fight.  According to Joe, “no one messed with him.”  His drive and determination were second to none.

Joseph attended Fordson High School where he made many friends and walked uphill, both ways, to and from the school.  While not the greatest student on the planet, he worked extremely hard and, with the help of his family, he enrolled at Wayne State University and became the first member of the Pinto family to go to college.  Then, with the help of the United States Air Force, he offered up two years of service for the opportunity to attend the University of Detroit Dental School where he graduated in 1953 as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).  For two years after his graduation, he served in the USAF in Greenland eventually attaining the rank of Captain and base commander.  Upon returning to the US, he taught dentistry part-time at the University of Michigan while establishing his proprietary practice.  He would gladly volunteer that there was not a better dentist in the Detroit area and he served his patients at his office in Garden City, Michigan until he retired in 1994.  He also served as the President of the Detroit District Dental Society and was a member of the Board of Directors of Delta Dental.   

Much to his mother’s chagrin, Joseph was a bachelor until he was 40 years old but like a good Italian boy, he lived at home.  Always the life of the party, Joseph was often put in charge of the “hospitality room” at dental conventions.  While attending a dental conference in Chicago, he met a lovely hygienist named Heather Duke.  That first meeting was inauspicious as Heather thought Joe was a bit “in love with himself.”  Through a miracle and some perseverance on his part, Heather also fell in love with Joe and they were married on December 30, 1966 so Joe could claim an extra dependent tax exemption for that year. Joseph and Heather didn’t waste time starting a family and they had three boys in the span of 35 months.  All three boys were lucky that they turned out 51% Italian even though Heather had no Italian genes.  He passed on more than his Italian heritage by instilling in each of his sons the same drive and determination to be successful in everything they did.  He was a tremendous role model, father and grandfather.  In what has become an incredible love story, Joe and Heather stayed deeply in love for 53 years of marriage and beyond.  He missed Heather desperately for the last three years.  While we are sure that our mom is happy to have him by her side at this time, she is sure to miss how quiet heaven was before he got there. 

Joseph had many hobbies and traits that he shared with the family.  He was an avid hunter and fisherman, life-long golfer and an amazing cook (although he was not very good at cleaning up after his cooking benders).  His “Sunday Soups” where he emptied the contents of the refrigerator and mixed it with some sort of tomato sauce were delicious but could never be replicated.  And his version of frittata, a fried pasta, cheese and sausage delicacy was a staple in our house (but, per his brother Johnny, it could have always used one more egg).

He was probably best at directing traffic, being the boss, yelling at the TV, being a grumpy old bear, lecturing all of us about what we should or shouldn’t be doing and telling us how he could fix the world if given the chance.  Mostly he was very proud that he was right 99.9% of the time.  He was always one to root for the underdog (insert any Detroit sports team here, most notably the Lions) and would never back down from a fight for the “little guy” (even death had to come get him while he was sleeping).  While he was concerned by the way the world was moving (what 95-year old isn’t), he was a believer that the USA was the greatest country in the world because where else could a poor immigrant have such success.  He lived the American dream.  He always said that his purpose in life was to leave the Earth, “a bit better than it was before he got here.”  He did so.  He was a friend to many and often bemoaned that so many of his friends got to heaven before he did.

Joseph is survived by his son Mark and his wife Jennifer, his son Perry and his wife Jennifer and his son Jeffrey (who still has not married a Jennifer).  He adored his five grandchildren more than life itself and he will be missed by Allison, Joey, Ethan, Eva and Peter.  Joseph loved and will be dearly missed by his extended family.

Joseph’s funeral and his celebration of life will begin with a viewing at the Schrader-Howell Funeral Home on Thursday, April 13th from 2 PM to 7 PM.  Since COVID robbed us of a chance of celebrating a funeral mass for our mother, a funeral mass celebrating both Joseph and Heather will take place Friday, April 14th at 10:30 AM at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Plymouth, Michigan.  A short interment ceremony for both Joseph and Heather will take place directly after the funeral at Riverside Cemetery located at 680 Plymouth Road.  Following the interment, please join the family at the Italian American Club of Livonia (located at 39200 Five Mile Road in Livonia).  Our dad loved the Italian American Club especially the four times a year he got to eat there for free.  To him, that alone was worth the price of membership in the club.

At the family’s request, please do not send flowers but if you would like to honor Joseph and Heather `and their memories please consider a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (“PAN CAN”) at the www.pancan.org.  Follow the website to “donate now” and search for Joseph and Heather Pinto.

Thank you for all the kind words of love and remembrance for Joseph and Heather and support for the entire Pinto Family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph F. Pinto, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, April 13, 2023

2:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Schrader-Howell Funeral Home

280 S. Main St, Plymouth, MI 48170

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Friday, April 14, 2023

10:30 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church

47650 N. Territorial, Plymouth, MI 48170

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, April 14, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church

47650 N. Territorial, Plymouth, MI 48170

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Guestbook

Visits: 887

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree