Nov. 17, 1956 — June 10, 2018
Many people knew Joe Camizzi from his nearly 35 years of work for The Buffalo News, where he started in the classified department, then worked for more than 20 years as an outside sales representative for live entertainment accounts.
But he was also a familiar face in the box offices and customer service counters at Shea's Performing Arts Center for 23 years; with the Buffalo Sabres for 20 years; at Studio Arena Theatre for 10 years; at Darien Lake for about five years; and at the Erie County Fair and the Hamburg Fairgrounds Event Center for four years.
In fact, his wife, Susan D. (Bentley) Camizzi, said he was widely known as "Tix Joe," even among scalpers. "We used to tease him that he needed a Tickets.com and a Ticketmaster terminal at his desk, because he had so many people needing tickets," she said.
Despite dealing with crowds of thousands, Mr. Camizzi had an easy smile and was calm and reassuring. "Not too much rattled him," said his wife.
Mr. Camizzi died June 10, 2018, in Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga at age 61.
Few knew that Mr. Camizzi had been diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2015, or that a month later he and his wife lost their 27-year-old daughter, Mariya Camizzi Shanahan, to suicide. Six months later, the family organized a memorial walk for people suffering from depression and addiction that benefited several local agencies.
"I am very sad that we lost our longtime News colleague Joe Camizzi," said Buffalo News Publisher and President Warren T. Colville. "Joe was with the News for almost 35 years and was one of our finest, hardworking, employees. He was a friend to many here, and will be missed."
Born on the West Side, the son of the late Joseph and Patricia (Milano) Camizzi. Mr. Camizzi attended Bishop Fallon High School, graduating in 1974. He then went to Point Park College in Pittsburgh, where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1978. At college, he was named Man of the Year for his work as Sports Information Director.
The circumstances under which he met his wife naturally involved tickets. Mr. Camizzi was working for a company that distributed blocks of college sports tickets to agencies that served youngsters. When he mentioned to the company's administrative assistant that he had an extra ticket to an Earth, Wind and Fire concert, she thought of her friend Susan, who also loved the group.
That concert was their first date, said Mrs. Camizzi, and they went on to see the group together "at least 10 times." They married on September 10, 1983, a month after he started working at The Buffalo News. Soon after their son was born, they moved to South Buffalo, where he lived for the rest of his life.
A devoted family man, Mr. Camizzi planned his schedule around his children's activities. "Both of our kids played soccer, and he never missed a game," his wife said. Active with Boy Scout Troop 3 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, he set aside Wednesday evenings for troop meetings and took a vacation week when the Scouts went to summer camp, she said.
Mr. Camizzi sold Kids Day Buffalo News newspapers for 30 years at Parkside Avenue and the Scajaquada Expressway, and was a volunteer for the Channel 17 auction and the Buffalo News Prep Talk event. Mr. Camizzi was also an avid thoroughbred racing fan who attended the Belmont Stakes race more than 15 times.
Six months after the death of their daughter, who was a teacher at Buffalo Public School 81, the Camizzi family led the first South Buffalo Walk for Hope and Awareness to bring attention to those suffering from depression, addiction and suicide. The first year, the Camizzis didn't know how many people would show up to walk with them.
To their surprise and joy, more than 1,000 people joined them. The funds raised by the annual walk in Cazenovia Park went to two South Buffalo soup kitchens, Crisis Services and Horizon Heath Services.
His wife said Mr. Camizzi was the longest-tenured part-time employee working for the Buffalo Sabres.
When Mr. Camizzi's cancer returned and he had to resign from The News in early April, he wrote a letter to his clients in which he said, "It has been a distinct honor and pleasure to have worked with all of you – getting to know many of you as more than just an account. We've had our share of highs and lows over the years, and I wouldn't trade one moment of the ride for anything in the world."
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Michael Camizzi; an adopted daughter, Katelyn Moore, who was their daughter's best friend; a sister, Deborah Camizzi; a brother, John Blando; an aunt, granddaughter, nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 15, in St. Louis Church, 780 Main St., Buffalo, at the corner of Edward Street.