Joseph Laurance Cicchese

Joseph Laurance Cicchese

August 26, 1929 - February 20, 2019
Lake Forest CA

Joseph Laurance Cicchese

August 26, 1929 - February 20, 2019
Lake Forest CA


Joseph L. Cicchese, a loving father, devoted husband, and a man who took pride in being a part of the United States’ space program, died peacefully on Feb. 20, 2019. He was 89.

Born and raised in Reno, Nev., he was the youngest of 9 children born to Italian immigrants Genesio “Jim” Cicchese, and Sofia Canzona Cicchese. He was the last one to be born and the last one of that generation to die.

Mr. Cicchese would entertain his family with stories about his days in Reno, particularly those involving his family, who operated the Reno Hot Springs resort. His childhood stories seemed to pour off pages written by Mark Twain. Playing hooky from school to go fishing. Frolicking through the sage-brush laced landscape in the shadow of Mount Rose. When of age, hiking into the woods with a rifle and hunting for deer.

It was a simpler time. So much so that at 14 he would often be tasked by his father to drive the family pick-up truck into Reno and transport kegs of beer for the family tavern. A couple of years later when he went into the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a license, now being of legal age, the clerks said, “We were wondering when you would finally come in here.”

A graduate of Reno High School, he briefly went to the University of California, Berkeley, with the ambition of becoming a dentist. But in negotiating one of the many turns of fate in life, he joined the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Although Mr. Cicchese would get no closer to Korea than when stationed Parks Air Force Base in Pleasanton, Calif. it was there he met the love of his life, Joanne Therese Recktenwald.

They professed their love and commitment to each other at St. Augustine Catholic Church on Oct. 4, 1953. That bond only grew stronger in their 65-year marriage.

In 1955 the young couple moved with their first born, Joseph L. Cicchese, Jr., to Los Angeles. On Feb. 3, 1955 Mr. Cicchese started working for North American Aviation. He would spend 35 years with the company that changed its name to North American Rockwell, and then to Rockwell International. His attention to detail, organizational skills and sound leadership made contributions to many programs, including the X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle.

A man who always preached the power of positive thinking, Mr. Cicchese would often say, “We put man on the moon. Nothing is impossible.”

In retirement, Mr. Cicchese spent many hours on the golf course playing the game he loved. Like all golfers, he experienced his share of the frustrations the game of golf often brings. However, he did get to experience the euphoria of getting a hole in one, and was proud of the bar bill that followed.

Mr. Cicchese had a passion for food, not just eating but also cooking. His barbecue spare ribs were legendary. He loved making classic Italian dishes including Osso Buco, Pasta Pomodoro (or as the family called it “Pasta a la Joe”), and Baccala. And his tomato sauce was like no other, staying true to the recipe that had been passed down to him. The last batch he made and put in the freezer weeks before he died will be savored by his family.

Mr. Cicchese was a devout Roman Catholic, and true to his faith. He was an active parishioner at St. Irenaeus Catholic Church in Cypress, Calif. for many years. He was a member of the Holy Name Society, and participated in devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He will lie in rest overlooking the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest, Calif., where he had lived for the last 16 years.

Mr. Cicchese is survived by his wife Joanne Cicchese of Lake Forest, Calif.; son Joseph L. Cicchese, Jr. of Franklin, Tenn.; son Michael J. Cicchese and daughter-in-law Holly Roche of Rollinsford, N.H.; daughter Lynn S. Burton and son-in-law Bruce Burton of Franklin, Tenn. He also leaves behind nephews James V. Cicchese, John K. Mealley, Daniel Mealley, niece Victoria (Mealley) Guy, and grand nephews Jonathan Mealley, Mac Mealley, and Jordan Guy.

A vigil and Rosary will be held on March 13, 2019 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the O’Connor Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway in Laguna Hills, Calif. A funeral Mass will be held at 9 a.m. on March 14, 2019 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 24253 El Toro Road, in Laguna Woods, Calif. at 9 a.m., with interment to follow at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Road, Lake Forest, Calif.


Vigil Service

  • Date & Time: March 13, 2019 (7:00 PM)
  • Venue: O'Connor Mortuary
  • Location: 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills, CA 92653 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 581-4300

Funeral Mass

  • Date & Time: March 14, 2019 (9:00 AM)
  • Venue: St. Nicholas Catholic Church
  • Location: 24252 El Toro Rd. Laguna Woods, CA 92637 - (Get Directions)

Graveside Service

  • Date & Time: March 14, 2019 (10:30 AM)
  • Venue: Ascension Cemetery
  • Location: 24754 Trabuco Road Lake Forest, CA 92630 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 837-1331

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4 responses to Joseph Laurance Cicchese

  1. Kris Geier says:

    So sorry Lynn! Thinking about you and your family.

  2. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, Lynn. I am so sorry for your loss. I pray you all find peace and comfort in the arms of our Lord and Savior.

  3. Your dad was a fabulous man, and I was blessed that my sister married him and I got to know him well, he was always kind, gentle, loving and fun to be around. I will miss my talks with him every couple of weeks, comparing our health notes and what. He was more like a brother to me than a brother-in-law. And he had three great kids that I am proud to call my niece and nephews. Your all in my prayers and I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. So sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. And i do remember his spaghetti dinners when we were in teen club. Take care, love and God bless.

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