Former co-owner of Buick-GMC
HAMMONTON—Joseph J. Arena, the former co-owner of Arena Buick-GMC Cub Cadet Lawn and Garden who spent a lifetime in his family’s business, died peacefully on November 9 with his loving family by his side, his obituary said. Arena was 95.
Arena was a lifelong Hammonton resident, graduating from Hammonton High School in 1944.
He served in the United States Army during the Korean War, active duty from 1950 to 1952, and was honorably discharged from reserve duty in 1956 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
He joined the family business, Arena Oldsmobile, after high school. The business was started by his father in 1920.
Arena ran the farm equipment department focusing on sales, parts and service of International Harvester including their famous Farmall tractors as well as in later years, Cub Cadet lawn and garden equipment while serving as Secretary of the corporation. In 1978, he assumed ownership of the business from his remaining family members, along with his son, Joseph Arena Jr., and he remained active until 2013, serving as president of Arena Buick-GMC and Cub Cadet Lawn and Garden Products.
He was a member of VFW Post 1026, Knights of Columbus #3471, American Legion F.A. Funston Post 186 and Hammonton Kiwanis Club. He also served as School Board President of St. Joseph High School.
According to his obituary, “He was a friend to all, including many farmers in South Jersey. Pop will be sadly missed especially for his wit and dry humor. He was never at a loss for a quick comeback.”
After Arena’s funeral Mass, his grandson Alec Arena and his son Joseph Arena Jr. gave eulogies.
Alec Arena recalled his grandfather as the person who “set the standard and taught me how to be the man of the family.”
“His dry sense of humor and quick wittedness remained until the very end, and would catch most off guard for someone his age to be so sharp. He once described riding as a passenger in the car with Mommom as ‘riding in the suicide lane’ and claimed he ‘took off his glasses but could still see the danger.’ These were some of the comments only few would catch but would be the funniest moment of the night if you did … Pop was thoughtful, knowledgeable and analytic. He did not talk much but what he had to say was worth a listen,” Alec Arena said.
During his eulogy, Joseph Arena Jr. noted the lessons his father taught his family and friends, including humility, balance, how to learn, how to listen, patience and how to pay it forward.
Examples of how those lessons were taught were included in Joseph Arena Jr.’s eulogy.
• “He liked to eat and he really liked his sweets. When I was a kid, I would travel with Pop to various farms where Pop would do field repairs on the Farmall tractors. On the return home, we’d always stop for custard. Up until today, he knew where every custard stand in South Jersey was located. I always felt special that he would stop and get me custard. Later in life, I realized, that he was stopping for custard whether I was with him or not! He taught us humility.
• “Pop was a quiet man. He always conducted himself in a calm and even-keeled manner. An unbelievable quality, that could be frustrating. Our mom was a Donio; they are a bit more outgoing people. Some may say a bit explosive. Pop taught us balance.
• “Pop was a member of ‘The Greatest Generation.’ They received a challenge, they implemented a solution and they went home. They did what had to be done and did not look for anything in return. They sacrificed for their family—first and foremost. Pop taught us how to conduct ourselves. He also taught us how to pay it forward,” Joseph Arena Jr. said.
He ended his eulogy with the kind of dry humor his father was known for followed by a fond farewell to Joseph Arena.
“I mentioned Pop was generally a quiet man. I’ve come to realize that was not true. He usually did not have enough time to talk. However, over the past eight years, you couldn’t shut the guy up! In fact, he became quite long winded. Today, he taught me to stop talking … So, I close with saying, this man left an impact on very many people. We love him, we miss him, we will never forget him,” Joseph Arena Jr. said.
Arena is predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Annabel (nee Donio); his parents, Salvatore and Millie (nee Caruso) Arena; and siblings, Angelo Arena, Mamie Rastelli, Marie Dampf and Charles Arena. He is survived by his daughter, Judith Pape (Tom) of Mt. Laurel; his sons Joseph Arena Jr. (Rose) and David Arena (Lori), both of Hammonton and his sister, Helen Ford of Hammonton. Arena is survived by his grandchildren, Katie Kuehner (Wayne), Annie Pape, David, Andrew, Alec and Nicholas Arena; great-grandsons, Logan and Roman Kuehner. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
A large number of family and friends attended his Mass of Christian Burial on November 13 at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish’s St. Anthony Church. Following the Mass, the funeral procession drove by Arena Buick-GMC, located on the point between the White Horse Pike (Route 30) and Main Road. Along the Main Road side of the car lot, a large number of red classic International Harvester Farmall tractors were lined up next to some Cub Cadet tractors and a 1947 International Harvester truck with “Arena” painted on its doors that had often been driven by Joseph Arena.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, 226 French St., Hammonton, NJ 08037.
Arrangements made by Marinella Funeral Home.