‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’
Joe Malia, age 93, died Thursday morning, Aug. 19, 2019, at his residence, on his wife Edith’s birthday. Married for 71 years, the loving couple are now reunited in Heaven celebrating her 92nd birthday.
Joe, the son of John F. and Isabella Doran Malia, was born in Butte on Jan. 20, 1926. He was one of seven children and grew up during the rough and tumble days of Butte. Joe won multi-Montana State boxing championships as well as regional golden gloves titles in Spokane, Twin Falls, and Seattle. He was recognized for his boxing accomplishments and was offered a scholarship to Gonzaga University, along with his best friends, Joe Antonietti and Eli Thomas. Later in life, Joe Malia was inducted into the Butte Hall of Fame.
Joe attended St. Ann’s Elementary, Butte High School, and Butte Central Catholic High School. He left high school at age 17 to enlist in the United States Navy, where he honorably served his country during World War II on the USS Marcus Island in the Pacific Theater, and participated in all major battles of the Pacific.
After the war, Joe returned to education and received a teaching degree from Western Montana College in Dillon, where he met and married his life’s partner, Edith Gibson, on Jan. 3, 1948. Together, they raised three children while devoting their lives to education. Joe received an MS in School Administration from San Francisco State University. He began his teaching career in Browning and also taught in Conrad before moving to Idaho, where he continued his career in education as a teacher and later served as a principal in Kellogg, Idaho.
In 1957, the family moved to California to pursue more educational opportunities. Joe taught for two years in Hilmar, California. Moving to Livermore, California, Joe taught and was school administrator in Livermore at East Avenue, Emma C. Smith, Joe Mitchell, Portola Elementary School, and Adult Education. Joe was an educator for nearly 40 years before he retired from Livermore Valley Unified School District in 1985. He had many interests, including college and professional sports, long distance running, golfing, collecting art, and traveling abroad with Edith.
Joe is survived by one daughter, Cheryl Malia-McCall of Billings; two sons, Rich Malia and wife, Patricia of Billings, Donny Malia of Billings; nine grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; sister, Rose (Bob) Chouinard of Billings; sister-in-law, Norma Malia Daly of Butte; and several nieces and nephews. Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Edith; his parents; two infant sons, Michael and Patrick; three sisters, Jean (Chester) Stodden, Mary (Ned) Laird, Lou Ann (Ed) Mengon; and two brothers, John ‘Jack’ Malia and Dan ‘Unk’ Malia.
A celebration of Life Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at St. Bernard’s Parish, 226 Wicks Lane, Billings, MT 59105. Following the service, fellowship and lunch will take place at Lake Hills Golf Course. Graveside service with full military honors will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday Nov. 2, 2019, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte, MT.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Billings YMCA, Youth and Children programs. A special thank you to Dr. James Girolami, Dr. Larry Severa, the staff at Tender Nest, and Stillwater Hospice for their caring and kindness towards our mother and father. Condolences may be made at www.michelottisawyers.com.