July 16, 2021

A life touched by tragedy and faith inspires a grandson

This photo of Josephine “Josie” Piccolo is the favorite of her grandson, Joe Beam. (Submitted photo)

This photo of Josephine “Josie” Piccolo is the favorite of her grandson, Joe Beam. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The rosary and crucifix of his grandmother hang on the wall of Joe Beam’s bedroom. His memories of her are close to his heart, too.

He remembers how the life of Josephine “Josie” Piccolo was touched by so much tragedy and how she lived with so much faith.

“She was born one of eight children to German immigrants,” says Beam, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville. “Only five children lived to be adults. Her first marriage ended when her husband and son died during the Spanish Flu.

“Her second marriage, to my grandfather, was marked by losing a child to scarlet fever. Ten years into their marriage, he died of tuberculosis, leaving her with three daughters. She managed to raise them by herself, then remarried again for the next 20 years until her third husband died of cancer.”

Despite all those hardships, his grandmother kept a joy that endured.

“My grandmother never owned a home, drove a car nor had any money to speak of, yet she was one of the happiest persons I ever knew,” he says. “Her life revolved around friends and family. She always smiled and brought happiness to all that knew her. Her only paying job was part-time babysitting where she became family to all those that employed her.”

Beam believes the foundation of her approach to life was her faith.

“She would walk to Mass at the local Catholic church and contribute what she could of her meager earnings. Praying the rosary was an essential part of her daily life.

“My grandmother lived a long life filled with many hardships without complaining or being bitter about anything. She was a saint to me and always will be my role model for what it means to be Catholic.” †

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