Joseph Vella, 85: Tailor, Tenor

Joseph Vella was born on March 22, 1931, in Mosta, Malta, and passed away on July 11, comforted by family and friends.

When he was 19, he graduated from technical school as a tailor for the fashion industry. He was selected to sew an outfit for Queen Elizabeth in the early 1950s. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Canada. He taught a sewing class there, which is where met his first wife, Helen. They were married in November 1957.

Joseph’s immigration to this country was sponsored by a brother who lived in Michigan. He discovered Pacific Palisades when he and Helen came to California on vacation.

Joseph Vella
Joseph Vella

While sitting on Will Rogers beach, he looked up at the bluffs and told his wife, “I want a house on the other side of that hill.”

They bought their home on Embury Street on July 11, 1959. Their daughter, Caroline, was born later that year and then attended Corpus Christi School. She remembers that she lived closest to the school of all the students and never had an excuse for being late. She also never had an excuse for the length of her skirt, since her dad was a tailor. “It was always exactly three inches above the knee,” she remembers.

Joe’s first job in California was int he men’s alterations department at Seibu, a Japanese department store located at Wilshire and Fairfax in 1962. He later worked at Caruso Men’s Clothing in Santa Monica, Giorgio’s in Beverly Bills, J. Hampton Tailors in Downtown L.A., Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire, Hagertys, Robinson’s (Century City), and Green Men’s Clothing (Topanga). He retired from Nordstroms in Glendale.

He was also self-employed, and his clients included people from the entertainment, sports and medical industries. Joe enjoyed working on commercial sets, making sure the suit on the model outshined the fancy car he or she was standing next to.

Some may remember the commercial “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” The lady standing in the forest would create a thunderstorm when she was upset. The dress she was wearing was made by Joe.

He divorced his first wife in 1977. In the late 1980s, Joe fell in love with Ramona Renteria and they married in September 1989. They enjoyed traveling and volunteering at St.Augustine’s parish in Culver City together.

Joe had many passions, which included singing in the church choir. He was a tenor in the Corpus Christi Parish Choir. In the 1980s, he joined St. Augustine’s Parish Choir and the Marina City Choir.

In addition to singing at Disney Concert Hall, Joe also was in the choir when Pope John Paul II said a mass at Dodger Stadium, on September 16, 1987.

He will also be remembered for the elaborate flower arrangements he made to dec- orate the church altars at Corpus. One year at Christmas time, Monsignor Cotter took a picture of the beautifully decorated altar and made a calendar for all the parishioners. Joe loved to cook and took great pride in his Palisades yard. His daughter remembers that “we had the most beautiful yard, full of trees and flowers.”

She found a newspaper clipping about her dad winning seconda nd third place for his sweet peas in a contest sponsored by the Palisades Woman’s Club. Joe is survived by his wife, Ramona; his daughter, Caroline Fausett (husband Richard) and granddaughter Amanda; and his brothers, Emmanuel and Rene, and sister Joyce.

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