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In Memoriam: Joe “The Boss” Patria

Michael S. Eddy • Industry News • January 30, 2020

Joe “The Boss” Patria

Joseph P. Patria, Jr., age 86 of Stratford, CT died on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Patria, who was affectionately known as “The Boss”, was born in 1934 and was initiated into IATSE Local 109 in 1958. Local 109 then merged with IATSE Local 74. Patria worked as a Production Carpenter on well over 100 Broadway productions and gave many stagehands their start. His list of shows included work on Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, The Producers, Riverdance, Tap Dance Kid, and Annie to name a few. He was even mentioned and thanked at the Tony Awards in 2001 for his work on The Producers, when the show’s scenic designer, Robin Wagner accepted his Tony, he thanked the men who loaded that show. “It never could have happened without Joe Patria,” he said.

Patria was mourned by many, including the IATSE Local 74 Facebook Page: “We have lost one of the great ones, The King of Broadway, the Boss, our Brother Joe Patria. There are too many accomplishments to list. Brother Patria gave so many opportunities to young people starting out in this industry.” Many on social media added their thoughts and memories of working with Patria, who was known to be fair and gave many their start in the business of working backstage in theater.

The Klein Theater in Bridgeport dedicated its stage door to Joe Patria

Patria was also a stage manager and master carpenter at the Stratford Shakespeare Theater during its golden days from 1955 to the 1980s. He also worked at The Klein Theater in Bridgeport, which named its stage door for Patria on November 14, 2015.

According to his obituary, “Joe was born in Bridgeport to the late Joseph P. Patria, Sr. and Lillian (Tiberio) Patria. He graduated from Harding High School and joined the Marine Corps. He served in Korea for two years. He then attended University of Bridgeport and New Haven State Teachers College.

“During his studies, he worked part-time at the Klein in Bridgeport and Shakespeare Theater in Stratford. His love for the theatre won over being teacher and he began working full-time in the theatre.”

Both Patria and Leo Meyer, ran Atlas Scenic Studio, a Bridgeport company that constructed sets for Broadway musicals. Meyer died in 2018 at age 84.

He was also a longtime supporter of reviving the Shakespeare Theater. In 2004, he believed the theater could be reopened for just under $2 million. “We could go to New York and draw a crowd with the people who want to be part of this,” Patria said. He felt the benefit to the community goes beyond dollars and cents. “The theater brings a quality of life and culture to the community.”

During its run, the theater offered a variety of productions, but probably none as memorable as Othello, with James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer, in 1981. For years, he worked to reopen the theater that closed in 1989. Patria would later give a tour of the shuttered Shakespeare Theater to actors Ed Asner and Christopher Walken, who had performed on its stage. “This building is such an asset. Every city in this country would fight to have a building like you have.”

IATSE Brothers (and Brothers) Joe “The Boss” Patria and Ritchie Patria receiving their 50-year scrolls from members of the IATSE Local 74 Executive Board.

He was married to his wife, Millie (Polena) Patria for 60 years. In addition to his wife, Joe is survived by his two sons, Dr. Michael Patria and his wife, Terry, of Stratford, and Guy Patria and his wife, Kimberly, of FL; three grandchildren, Joe, Chris, and Michael; his sister, Lillian Berarducci, and her companion, Ray Klein, of Monroe; his sister-in-law, Patricia Patria, of Bridgeport; and several nieces and nephews. Joe was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Richard Patria.

Friends may call on Friday from 4 – 8:00 p.m. at the Pistey Funeral Home, 2155 Main Street, Stratford. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. at the Funeral Home and at 10:00 a.m. with a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Church. Interment with military honors will follow at Saint Michael Cemetery.

Those who so desire, may make contributions in his memory to SWIM Across the Sound, 2600 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06606. Please visit to express condolences online.

He will be missed by family, friends, and colleagues alike. Requiescat in Pace, Joseph Patria




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