Joseph T. Cuccaro

FALMOUTH – Col. (Ret.) Joseph T. Cuccaro passed away peacefully on Feb. 16, 2021, at his home in Falmouth. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1937, Joe attended Plainfield High School. He grew up a Yankees baseball fan and never stopped following his team. Already an outdoorsman, Joe attended the University of Maine at Orono, joined Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was President of his 1959 graduating class. There he met the love of his life, his wife Patricia Stiles, and earned a commission as a second lieutenant through ROTC.

Joe had a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Army. He served twice in Vietnam, once with the First Air Cavalry Division, as part of a revolutionary air assault unit that originated in Ft. Benning, Georgia. His second tour was with the 82nd Airborne Division. After assignments in Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Leavenworth, then Major Cuccaro was requested for assignment to the Berlin Brigade. The Brigade served as a beacon of freedom along with French and British units within communist East Germany. He became Deputy Community Commander of the American Sector and was a popular liaison to the Berlin community at large.

In 1978 Joe returned to the United States and a posting at the Pentagon as Chief of a planning and operations team of the U.S. Army Logistics Operations Center. In 1981 Joe began his final tour of duty in Battle Creek, Michigan, as Chief of Staff for the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) where he served as the first program manager leading the world-wide reuse and disposal of non-nuclear hazardous waste for the Department of Defense. Other officers he worked with at DRMS described his “insatiable capacity to understand complex concepts” and a “logical, common sense judgment.” His coworkers throughout his career–lawyers, scientists, staff—all remember his admonishments to speak plainly and “talk infantry.” It is here that Joe received his final promotion to Colonel.

As a soldier, Joe was awarded numerous decorations: the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (3 awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (twice), Air Medal (twice), Army Commendation Medal (twice), Army of Occupation Medal (Berlin), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Silver Star Valorous Unit Award, Combat Infantryman’s and Parachutist badges.

During his military career Joe and Pat (and children Kim and Mike) moved some 20 times, often on the east coast but also to West Berlin, Germany for four years. They traveled extensively throughout Europe, often sleeping in tents at roadside campgrounds. Summer vacations at the cottage by a lake in central Maine were an annual event with the families of brother Tony and sister Marianne. After retirement from the Army, the family returned to Maine permanently. Joe joined the environmental engineering firm of E.C. Jordan (later ABB Environmental) where he thrived as a department manager and then senior program manager. Retiring again in 1997, Joe enjoyed more time spent at the lake, fly-fishing trips with his friends, and indulging his family and pets.

Consistently throughout his life Joe displayed a fondness for animals, particularly dogs. Originally an avid fisherman, hunter and even a hunting instructor, in his later years he chose to observe and protect nature. He was a Trustee of the Maine Audubon Society. Joe was also an athlete – a baseball player and wrestler in school and always active. He was on the Athletic Advisory Board to the President of the University of Maine and was an enthusiastic supporter of Men’s Hockey. He was known for the respect he showed others, as is evidenced by the loyalty of those that knew him. In addition to his family Joe has many, many friends and comrades that he loved dearly.

He was our husband, our brother, our father, our friend, our mentor, and our role model. We will all miss him and pray he is in a better place.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland, Maine. To view Joe’s memorial page, or to share an online condolence, please visit

You can see Joe tell his own history at, part of the Crestwood Oral History Project.

Joseph T. Cuccaro

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