**In Loving Memory of Joseph “Joe” D Ruffalo** May 29, 1959 – April 1, 2024

With heavy hearts, we say goodbye to the one and only Joseph “Joe” D Ruffalo, a man who defined his life and brightened all of ours with a beautiful blend of humor, love, and unforgettable moments. Born May 29, 1959, Joe entered the world with a twinkle in his eye and a knack for finding humor in every situation, including his timely exit on none other than April Fool’s Day, April 1, 2024. He leaves behind his son Shawn Ruffalo (Karen) and their child, his only grandchild, Bex; his brothers Doug Ruffalo (Bronwyn), David Ruffalo, and Michael Ruffalo (Lori); and his beloved nieces Madison, Makenna, and Macy. He is preceded in death by his loving parents, Michael Ruffalo and Dolores A. Ruffalo, grandmother Frances Salter, and grandfather Joseph Ruffalo.

Joe was a blessing in all of our lives, and his absence will be deeply felt not only by his closest loved ones, but by everyone he encountered. His good-humored, warm, and generous spirit instantly made a friend out of every stranger, leaving a lasting impression on all who crossed his path. He lived his life with gusto, never missing an opportunity to crack a joke or a beer, share a laugh, or lighten the mood. Above everything, Joe most enjoyed being surrounded by his family. Whether at sporting events or holiday gatherings, he made sure everyone’s glasses (and stomachs) were full.

Joe shared a unique bond with his brothers Doug, David, and Mike, creating treasured memories together of Christmas Eve parties, family trips to the beach, Hillsdale Lake, and fishing trips to the Ozarks. As their families grew, Joe cherished his role as a proud – and silly– uncle, bragging on his girls at every chance. He delighted in babysitting his nieces, with mozzarella sticks always fresh from the oven as he laughed with them watching their favorite movies over and over and over again.

With the arrival of his grandchild Bex, Joe knew a love immeasurable. He adored Bex beyond words, his face lighting up at the mere mention of their name. Popi never made a single trip to the grocery store without buying a toy or trinket surprise, and never missed a moment to show them with a gift or a gesture– no matter how small or grand– just how much they were loved.
Joe came by his passion for cooking and entertaining through his storied career in food service and restaurant operations, turning any simple home meal into a gourmet experience and ensuring every basic plate of scrambled eggs was never without a parsley garnish.

His humble beginnings at the Old Market Restaurant led to a variety of experiences and increasing responsibilities in bartending, serving, and ultimately perfecting the art of customer service. He proudly served as the head waiter of Garozzo’s Downtown, leaving for a brief time to open his own catering business, and ultimately returning to Garozzos to work on the opening teams for the Overland Park and Olathe locations. Whether he was whipping up a feast in the kitchen or expertly serving dishes with a flourish, Joe had a way of making every dining experience memorable.

On April Fools’ Day, a day synonymous with laughter and light-hearted pranks, Joe took his final bow, leaving behind a legacy of love and laughter that will live on in the hearts of all who knew him. We take comfort in knowing that he’s up there, probably regaling the angels with tales of his latest escapades and trying to convince them to join him for a game of poker and a plate of spaghetti.

In honor of Joe’s memory, raise a glass (or two) in celebration of a life well-lived. Share a joke, tell a funny story, and cherish the moments you have with your loved ones, just as Joe did.

Celebration of Life at Overland Park Garozzo’s 4/22- 6 pm – 8pm.


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