By Thomas Sellers Jr.
There he was surrounded by familiar faces once again with his signature Old Timers chef jacket and white towel over his right shoulder.
But unlike the past two decades at the legendary Flag City eatery located on the corner of Easley and C Street, this would be the final time friends, employees, colleagues, City of Millington officials and family lay eyes on Joseph Paul Marcello III.
The businessman, community leader and owner of Old Timers Restaurant passed away June 29 after a quick battle with cancer.
Among those paying tribute to the longtime chef and friend of the community were his wife Wanda “Kay” James Marcello, sons Jeremy and Joseph IV, daughter Melissa Delatte and granddaughter Savannah.
Also surviving Marcello were brother Samuel Marcello, Sr., sister, Louise Crossland Marcello, niece, Victoria “Tori” Crossland, nephews, Samuel Marcello, Jr., Vincent Vazquez and Marc Vazquez; great nephew, Aiden Vazquez; mother-in-law, granny Alberta James; sisters-in-law, Rhonda James Vazquez and Darlene Jarreau Marcello.
The man known as “Chef Joey” also left behind a host of lives he impacted from Millington to New Orleans or as he called it NOLA.
Some of those Marcello touched made their way to the Millington Civic Center Monday morning for his funeral service.
Stories were shared about his attention to deal, remembering patrons’ names, items on the menu like Smoked Chicken and his overall generosity.
Hired by the previous owner, the late W.S. “Babe” Howard about 20 years ago, Marcello became part of the Millington fabric.
From fellow business personal to city officials, people had familiar tables in Old Timers. Several of Marcello’s employees were at the funeral sharing stories.
Joining in were customers like Bernice Kirk. About three years ago, Kirk became a regular at Old Timers because Marcello made her feel so welcome.
“He was a very warm and personable man,” she said. “He cared about each of the customers making sure they were satisfied with their service.”
Kirk said Marcello went around the room checking on patrons and making conversation. She noted the staff reflected his dedication and attention to details.
“It didn’t matter your ethnicity, everybody was special to him,” she said. “He made sure he went from table to table. He was a very good and professional chef.”
After the tribute and service in Millington, Marcello was honored in New Orleans. Visitation were from 11:30 a.m., with the funeral mass following at 1:30 p.m. on July 19, 2016 at St. Mary’s Italian Church, located at 1100 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116. In lieu of flowers, please donate to our church parish, St. Williams Catholic Church, 4932 Easley St., Millington, TN 38053