Joseph J. Meola, a mechanical engineer for Goodyear Aerospace and a lifelong resident of Stark County, died Jan. 8. He was 94 years old.
The cause of death was COVID-19 pneumonia.
Mr. Meola was involved in several Cold War-era projects for Akron-based Goodyear Aerospace. He worked on the design of the target-type thrust reverser for jet engines, the SUBROC submarine-launched missile, heat shields for spacecraft re-entry vehicles, and, later, centrifuge nuclear enrichment research at the company’s Wingfoot Lake facility.
He started working for Goodyear Aerospace after graduating from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in engineering. He earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Akron in 1968. His specialty was heat transfer and thermodynamics.
Goodyear Aerospace was sold to Loral in 1987 and Mr. Meola retired in 1989. He moved from Canton to North Canton in 1998, where he lived the rest of his life.
He was the son of Giuseppe Meola, originally from Greci, Campania, Italy, and Colomba Meola (née Viglione) of Faeto, Puglia, Italy. His family emigrated to Canton in the early 20th century to escape the grinding poverty that plagued southern Italy in the aftermath of Italian unification.
Many residents from Greci settled in Stark County over a century ago. Mr. Meola and his family were Arbëreshë, ethnic Albanians who settled in Greci in the 15th century and are an ethnic and linguistic minority in Italy. He was proud of this heritage and loved to pepper his conversation with Arbëresh words. However, he never used the term “Arbëreshë” to describe himself. He preferred, instead, the term “Gegë”, which is a dialect of Albanian.
Mr. Meola was a U.S. Navy veteran who served stateside during the Second World War. He was a flight engineer on a PBY Catalina and his last assignment was on the USS Vella Gulf (CVE-111). He was honorably discharged in 1946 at Bremerton, Wash.
Mr. Meola was a lifelong member of St. Anthony/All Saints Church in Canton where he was involved in parish activities. He was also a longtime member of the Unique Club, an organization for Italian-Americans in Stark County, and the Sons of Italy.
He is survived by his son, John, and daughter-in-law Melissa, in Weehawken, N.J., nephew Mark Meola in West Hills, Calif., nephew Józef Meola in Camas, Wash., niece Jeannie Meola Battista of Canton, and niece Marianne Meola Rowles of Canton. His wife of 55 years, Domenica (known to all as “Betty”), died in 2011.
Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Anthony/All Saints Church on Friday, January 15, 2021, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be at Rossi Funeral Home, 730 30th Street N.W., Canton, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Masks and social distancing required.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in Joseph Meola’s name to St. Anthony/All Saints Church or the Michigan Tech Fund, c/o Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, Mich. 49931-1295.
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