SunBird Personalities

Bob Neuman

Joe Amato grew up in Chicago with his Italian family and lived there until coming to Arizona in 1984. His memories include a young boy hanging out with his friends. “I liked to play softball with the gang. We played in the street,” he recalls.

He attended the Catholic church. After high school graduation, he enrolled at Electronic Tech Institute to learn about refrigeration and to eventually make it his career.

A boy named Joe lived across the street from Sandra’s family. “I knew him in grade school, and our parents were friends,” she said. Her mother, a stay at home mom, also had two sons. Sandra’s father had been in the Army during WWII and was wounded in Germany on Christmas Day, 1944.

“My mother did not like Joe, because he would stand on the fire plugs and shout, ‘I am the boss,’” said Sandra.

Later, Joe asked if he could take Sandra out. While her father agreed, her mother said, “Hell no.” However, Dad prevailed, and the couple began dating. On April 28, 1963, Joe and Sandra were wed in Chicago. They will celebrate their 55th anniversary this coming year.

They moved to Arizona in 1984 and lived in Chandler. Through the years, Joe has worked in commercial refrigeration, sometimes helping the large Arizona stores with their problems. Currently, he is employed at Bashas’, assisting them with refrigeration difficulties. Asked if he repaired refrigerators in homes, he replied, “The current ones are sealed which prevents repairs. The life of refrigerators is 10 years. If it goes bad after that, it’s best just to buy a new one.”

The couple was blessed with three children and now have 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Amatos have made trips to graduation of grandchildren. One daughter resides in New Hampshire, a beautiful place Joe and Sandra like to go.

They also have taken cruises to Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Besides New England, the two have visited Mexico, Florida and California.

Since 2003, SunBird has been their home. They like the friendly people and the many activities. Since their arrival, they have enlarged their home by moving walls and adding rooms.

Sandra enjoys quilting. Joe likes to fish, hunt and travel. Keeping himself fit is important, too. He rides a bike and visits our work room daily. Sandra replies there is one thing he left out. “He’s a pro aggravator,” she claims.

The SunBird Community Church is important. When the church was struggling for attendees during the summer, Joe was one of three to find ways to increase the number. He recalls standing in front of them preparing to deliver the sermon. Then he discovered he had left his Bible and notes at home, so he winged it. “I told the congregation that God works in mysterious ways.”

Sandra and Joe are down-to-earth people whom you would do well to know.