Joseph A. Gagliardo, co-founder of Gagliardo Realty in River Forest, died Sunday, Jan. 7 in his River Forest home at the age of 79. He had been suffering from prostate cancer.
Growing up as the son of Italian immigrants on Chicago’s West Side, Mr. Gagliardo started Gagliardo Realty in 1958 with his mother, Josephine, who had been a real estate agent at the time.
He attended St. Ignatius High School, where his prowess in football earned him entry into its Hall of Fame, as well as a full athletic scholarship to Marquette University. He graduated from Marquette in 1949 as an All-American running back, despite being only 5 foot 7. He would later share his experiences from the collegiate gridiron while serving as a coach and mentor at St. Giles School in Oak Park.
Rich Gloor, Sr., who once housed his family’s real estate business on the 7300 block of North Avenue next door to Gagliardo, recalls, “There were 3 or 4 of us on the block; I was the kid, and Joe was pretty well settled in. In those days, Joe was the guy who ran things in Elmwood Park.”
John Sprafka, another local Realtor, had known Gagliardo since 1958, and had served as his Vice-President when he was president of the Oak Park Board of Realtors in 1976. “We were always competitors,” he says of Gagliardo, “yet we always got along real well.”
Gagliardo’s amiability and cheerful demeanor won him the friends and clientele which made his business a success. He was both trusted and admired. Andy Gagliardo recalls, “I cannot count the number of times I have been introduced to people, and when they hear the name Gagliardo, they tell me that my father was one of the nicest guys they had ever met.
After retirement, his competitive streak from the football field continued on the golf course and at the clubhouse card table, where he played gin and poker. He was a popular member at the Oak Park Country Club.
Mr. Gagliardo is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Lorraine, his son, Andy, and four daughters, Donna, Lori, Mary and Gina.
A funeral was held Thursday at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest, attracting an impressive crowd of well-wishers who had known the man and his impact in the community. Lars Sorenson