Retired Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Philip Mallone passed away on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, in Geneva, Ohio, at the age of 97.
Judge Mallone was a dedicated public servant in many capacities, a loyal alumnus of Geneva High School and Ohio Northern University, a Navy Veteran of two wars, a proud Italian-American and devoted family man.
Judge Mallone considered himself lucky to have lived the “American Dream.” Born to Francesca (Trumfio) and Bruno Sgamballone in Geneva, Ohio, on April 3, 1915, he overcame poverty, prejudice and difficult beginnings. His mother was widowed twice young, and Joseph became the father-figure for his five younger brothers. They all worked hard picking fruit, peddling newspapers, caddying and growing all their own food to survive.
To his knowledge, Judge Mallone was the first in his family to ever attend school. At Geneva High School, he became very involved in athletics, lettering in several sports, becoming the captain of the football team, and much later inducted into the Ashtabula County Football Hall of Fame. He was an honor student and senior class president for the class of 1932.
He was offered several sports scholarships which he had to defer until the next-older brother could take over supporting the family. He worked in several local factories and was the President of Labor Local No. 19500 in Geneva in 1933. Finally in 1935, he accepted a scholarship to Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. While in college, Judge Mallone spent three years in the Ohio National Guard (Machine Gun Company, 1935-1938,) then went into the Reserves. At ONU, he held the university sports award record, was named All-Ohio Conference in football, basketball, track and was a college heavyweight boxing champion, as well as the university golf champion. He later was inducted into the ONU Athletic Hall of Fame. Also, at ONU, he was elected the sophomore and senior class president of the class of 1939.
Judge Mallone began his teaching and coaching career as the athletic director and head athletic coach for Paulding High School, Paulding, Ohio. He strongly believed that sports taught young people valuable life-long lessons. It was there that he met his future wife, Alice Belle Tope, and they married June 12, 1942. They moved to Geneva, where he had accepted a position a year earlier as the athletic director and head coach. He coached the first GHS football game in Memorial Field in 1941. But war would intervene, and two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Judge Mallone enlisted in the Navy. He was selected by Commander Gene Tunney, the great boxer, to become a chief specialist to assist in the physical training of volunteers. He became company commander, where he struck up a life-long friendship with another man in his company, Bob Feller.
The Navy experience had a profound impact on Judge Mallone’s life. He was to spend three years at sea (CPO, gunnery officer, Atlantic-Pacific Fleets.). He began on the Contreras, built to refuel ships at sea, near Scotland and Russia and then mostly in the Mediterranean. Later he was an Armed Guard on the captured Italian ship, the Saturnia. He then would spend three years in the Pacific, first as a chief gunners mate on a new ammunition ship, the USS Lakewood Victory that was involved in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was decorated with various medals and ribbons, including two bronze stars and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He remained in the Reserves (Training Officer, Cleveland Submarine and Surface Divisions) and taught courses on the USS Cod, now docked in Cleveland. During the Korean conflict, Judge Mallone (LCDR, USNR) served on the USNS Fred C. Ainsworth that transported troops between San Francisco and Manila. Later, he was the Commanding Officer, Composite Division 4-47, Geneva.
After WWII, Judge Mallone went to law school at Western Reserve University under the GI Bill. He worked as a realtor with the Hart Morrison Agency in Geneva while in law school, and was named Ashtabula County Realtors’ Man of the Year in 1947. Later he transferred to ONU School of Law where he graduated with the Class of 1950 and became Assistant Paulding County Prosecutor. He wanted to return to his hometown, so he moved his family back to Geneva and opened his first law office in 1952. He served two terms as the mayor of Geneva from 1954 to 1958, during which he initiated home rule, implemented comprehensive zoning, installed the pedestrian islands, established Depot Street parking lot, annexed the Sherman Street Extension area, served in the mayor’s court, and worked to get Geneva classified as a city. He was Geneva Jaycee Man of the Year in 1954, Director of the Geneva and GOTL Chambers of Commerce, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Geneva Recreation and Planning Boards. He also served as president of the Board of Directors of Geneva Memorial Hospital, where he was instrumental in buying the land and beginning construction in 1947 on what is now the UHHS-Geneva Medical Center.
Judge Mallone moved his family to Jefferson in 1961 when he became the Director of Court Services in the Ashtabula County Juvenile Court and Juvenile Court Referee from 1961 to 1973. His wife, Alice, became the matron of the Juvenile Detention Home on East Satin Street, and the family lived there while he served in that capacity. In 1972, he was elected Western County Court Judge, a position he held for six years. In 1978, he was elected to the Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court. After his retirement in 1985, he served on assignment to the Appelate Courts of Ohio. He served as Ashtabula County Bar Association President, Vice Chairman of the Ohio Youth Services Advisory Board, President of the Ohio Correctional and Court Services Association, and was Founder and President of the Northeastern Ohio Youth Commission. Three times recognized by the Ohio Supreme Court for Superior Judicial Service, Judge Mallone was also recipient of the ONU Petit College of Law Centennial Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985.
He truly loved Geneva and devoted much time to public service, not only there but also for the entire county. He served as President of the Ashtabula County United Appeal, President of Ashtabula Community Services, member of the Board of Directors of the Ashtabula County YMCA, member of the Board of Directors of the Ashtabula County Mental Health Clinic, member of the Board of Directors of the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club, Founder of the Ashtabula County Big Brothers and Board Member of the Ash. Co. Welfare Advisory Board and the Ash. Co. Juvenile Court Advisory Board. He also served as Post Commander of American Legion 124, Commander of the Ashtabula County American Legion and was a life member of VFW Post #6846. Judge Mallone was involved with the American Field Service, and his family hosted Geneva’s first AFS student (Rolf Lehming, Germany) in 1960 and then again hosted an AFS student (Ria Earp, New Zealand) in 1971. He was a member of the Sons of Italy and ISDA, La Societe Des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux, over 20 other civic and fraternal groups, and a member of The United Church of Geneva.
Judge Mallone credited the Boy Scouts with helping him- a fatherless boy- achieve his potential. In 1941, the Boy Scouts of America granted him the Order of the Arrow. As a Boy Scout troop leader, at one time he set a record for the number of Eagle Scouts in Ohio in one troop.
He was named a 1968 Community Leader of America, and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities 1938-1939.
Judge Mallone was preceded in death by his wife, Alice; his parents; and four brothers, Dominic “Mickey” Sanzotta, Bruno Mallone, Carmen “Mel” Sanzotta and James Sanzotta; and by his second wife, Olga Nichols. He is survived by his brother, Anthony Sanzotta; and three children, Joseph (Grayce) Mallone Jr., Nancy (Richard) Stevens and Cathy (Daniel) Ernes, all of Geneva; eight grandchildren, Jason (Heather) Stevens, Mindy (Manish) Shah, Emily Ernes, Matthew (Tami) Mallone, Marc (Megan) Mallone, Steven (Johanna) Menough, Douglas (Jennifer) Menough and Todd (Tracy) Menough; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was so very proud of his family and their accomplishments.
Friends will be received from 5 to 8 p.m., Monday, July 30th, at THE BEHM FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 175 S. Broadway, Geneva, Ohio.
A Funeral Service will be held 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 31st, at The United Church of Geneva, 75 S. Broadway, Geneva, Ohio. Burial with Full Military Honors will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Geneva.
Memorial donations may be made to the Joseph and Bruno Mallone Scholarship, Ohio Northern University, Office of University Advancement, 525 S. Main St., Ada, Ohio 45810-1599; the Boy Scouts of America, Greater Western Reserve Council, 4930 Enterprise Dr., Warren, Ohio 44481-8706; or The United Church of Geneva. Obituary and condolences at www.behmfuneral.com and starbeacon.com.