Joseph A. "Joe" DeFelice
Joseph A. “Joe” DeFelice, author of the long-running “Man About Canton” column, a recreational trailblazer and a local townie icon, passed away Monday at home surrounded by his loving family.
One of the most prolific newspaper columnists in the entire country, DeFelice had written weekly for nearly 52 years until a terminal diagnosis forced him to call it quits in March. Yet in typical MAC fashion, he succeeded in beating the odds — more than doubling his initial prognosis of 30 days and going out on his own terms, just as he had lived.
A proud, lifelong “Cantonite,” DeFelice graduated from Canton High School in 1959 and went on to attend Northeastern University, where he earned a degree in industrial engineering. Less than a week after graduating from college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and would go on to serve a 14-month stint in Korea while attaining the rank of captain.
Returning to his hometown after completing his active duty service, DeFelice worked briefly at the Plymouth Rubber Company before embarking on a long career at the Kendall Company of Walpole. He later worked for many years as a toll collector on the Massachusetts Turnpike and was active with the Teamsters, serving on the executive board for Local 25.
Beginning in the late 1960s, DeFelice became active in local politics and went on to serve for six years on the Planning Board — including three years as chairman — before jumping to the Board of Selectmen in 1974. During his tenure, he contributed to several major initiatives, from the rezoning of Dan Road to the acquisition of Pequitside Farm to the construction of the first town pool on Bolivar Street.
Equally passionate about athletics, DeFelice excelled on the baseball diamond from a young age and went on to play for the Bulldogs and later for the Northeastern Huskies, helping lead the team to a Greater Boston League title in 1964. Switching his focus to softball, he founded the popular Canton Men’s Softball League and went on to become a managerial force in national senior softball, recruiting top players from all over the region and beyond to form a series of “super teams” that collectively won four national titles and three world titles.
In addition to his contributions in softball, DeFelice also founded Canton’s annual July 4th Road Race, serving as the official race starter for 52 consecutive years.
All of DeFelice’s interests, combined with his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Canton, coalesced around his popular weekly opinion column that he launched in the Canton Journal in June of 1970. Published under the “MAC” pseudonym for the first several years, the column became a fixture in Canton households and thrived as the headlining op-ed in the Canton Citizen over the past quarter century. DeFelice hand-wrote every installment of Man About Canton — more than 2,600 in all — and remained true to his values and viewpoints right up until his final column on March 17, 2022.
A proud family man, DeFelice is survived by his beloved wife, Dee Dee (Barrett); his three children, Michelle DeFelice and her husband, Robert Phinney, of Stoughton, Joanna Alessi and her husband, Scott, of Canton, and Joseph DeFelice and his wife, Lindsay, of Peachtree City, GA; and grandchildren Taylor and Brooke Alessi, Joseph “Drew,” Brady and Lyla DeFelice, and Raeanna Phinney. Also survived by siblings Francis and Michael, both of South Carolina, Robert of North Carolina, Susan Marathas of N. Easton, and Joan Robichaud of CA.
Visiting hours at the Dockray & Thomas Funeral Home, 455 Washington Street, Tuesday, May 24, from 4-7 p.m. Funeral Mass at St. Oscar Romero Church in Canton Wednesday, May 25, at 10 a.m. Burial Canton Corner Cemetery. Donations may be made in Joe’s memory to the American Legion Post 24 950 Washington St Canton, MA 02021