Newburyport — Joseph Fanaras passed away peacefully October 31, 2012 at his winter home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He was born March 28, 1925 in Haverhill, the youngest of seven children of Greek immigrants Anthony and Marianthe (Gramanas) Fanaras. He grew up in the Haverhill-Bradford area during the depression and began his working life at a very young age as a shoe shine boy. At the age of 13, he was employed by the Knipe Shoe Company in Ward Hill where he worked until 1943 when he was inducted into the United States Army. He served from 1943 through 1945 as a member of the 1st Army, 78th “Lightning” Division, 310th Regiment, Company F and was wounded on March 5, 1945 during the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Purple Heart, among many other medals and ribbons for his service. After his discharge, he moved to Newburyport, where he resided the rest of his life. He made Fort Lauderdale, Fla. his winter home beginning in 1998.
Mr. Fanaras was employed during the 1950's at the Ruth Shoe factory and Towle Silversmiths in Newburyport before joining the State of Massachusetts Highway Department where he was employed as a surveyor and highway engineer until his retirement in 1988. He also was a builder. In 1951 he built his home at 32 Myrtle Avenue in Newburyport with his own hands, an experience that inspired his love of building and pride of workmanship. During most of his adult life he owned and managed several real estate development and construction companies responsible for the creation of numerous residential, commercial and industrial properties in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including many homes in Newburyport’s Turkey Hill area, along Low Street and Hunter Drive, Colonial Heights Condominiums on Zabriskie Drive and the Salisbury Industrial Park in Salisbury. Mr. Fanaras was a man who insisted on quality work and took great pride in the properties he created.
He had a great passion for the City of Newburyport and was very civic-minded, wanting nothing but the best for the City, its residents, and its merchants. He was appointed as an original member of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority by Mayor Albert Zabriskie in the early 1960's and served a five-year term. During that term he was instrumental in identifying and delineating the area within the city that was to become revitalized by the Redevelopment Authority. Many merchants who started businesses in the revitalized downtown found him to be a man who was very generous with his time, advice and resources.
As a child of the depression and World War II era, he developed a lifelong love of music and dancing. He particularly enjoyed the music and movies of the big band era from the 1930's through the 1950's. He was a warm, gregarious and generous man who loved to entertain and spend time with family and friends.
He is survived by his daughter, Myrna J. Davis and her husband Steve, of Ft Lauderdale, Fla.; his daughter, Carol Beauparlant of Newburyport; son, Joseph L. Fanaras of West Newbury; five grandsons and numerous great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews. His wonderful, warm smile lit the hearts of all who had the privilege of sharing his company. He had the most loving heart imaginable and he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew and loved him.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean, his parents, brothers Louis, Charles and James, and sisters Helen, Katherine, and Mary.
On April 26, 2003 Mr. Fanaras was baptized, along with his daughter, Myrna, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was a member of the Newburyport Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Storey Avenue and the Cypress Fort Lauderdale Congregation.
ARRANGEMENTS: His memorial will be at 1:30 p.m. November 24, 2012 at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1301 East 38th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.