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Joseph P. Jarjura dies at 89

by | November 16, 2010
Joseph P. Jarjura, 89, died Oct. 21 at Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, CT, after a brief illness. The Waterbury resident was the founder and chairman of the board of J.P. Jarjura & Sons Co., a family-run wholesale fruit and vegetable distributor serving the area.

Mr. Jarjura had recently returned from a two-month visit to Lebanon, where he was born in Zghorta on Dec. 25, 1920. He was the son of the late Peter and Jora (Mowad) Jarjura. He came to the United States and settled in Waterbury in 1948 after meeting his wife, the late Ann M. George, while she was on a visit to Lebanon from Waterbury.

The George family introduced him to the produce business. He got his start buying fruits and vegetables at local auctions and selling them door-to-door via truck. He grew the operation from one truck to a multi-million-dollar corporation that employs 80 people today and owns its own truck fleet.

In addition to his many years in business in Waterbury, Mr. Jarjura had been an active member of several charitable, religious and civic organizations. He was a member of the Waterbury Rotary Club, having received that club’s highest public service award, the Paul Harris Fellow Award, in 1994. Mr. Jarjura was a founding member and a longtime board member of the Waterbury CrimeStoppers.

In 1996, Mr. Jarjura was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. Designed to pay homage to the immigrant experience, as well as for individual achievement, medals are awarded to U.S. citizens who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage. Past recipients include six presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry and artists.

Mr. Jarjura was a founding member of the Ehden Lebanese American Club and served that organization in many capacities including president, vice president and festival chairman. He served as chairman of the Ehden- Lebanese Clubs of North America, Northeast Chapter, USA. He was an active parishioner of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronnite Catholic Church and member of the Order of the Knights of St. Sharbel. In 1989, the Lebanese community of Waterbury honored him by naming him mayor for a day.

He is survived by his seven sons: Charles Jarjura of Wolcott, CT; Peter J. Jarjura of Del Ray Beach, FL; Arthur J. Jarjura of Waterbury; Fred J. Jarjura of Cheshire, CT; William G. Jarjura, David J. Jarjura and Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, all of Waterbury; a sister, Aurore Mowad of Lebanon; 15 grandchildren; four great- grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A funeral mass was held Oct. 25 at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Waterbury, followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery in Waterbury.

Contributions may be made in his memory to Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 8 East Mountain Road, Waterbury, CT 06706.