Farewell Joe Porcelli

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I am very sad to record the passing of Joe Porcelli, a long-time travel retail executive, well-known for his many years of outstanding service to the channel, particularly in the fragrance and cosmetics sectors.

Joe spent many years with Lancaster Group, Coty and other companies including Oscar de la Renta and won many, many friends in the business, including me. Joe was an outstanding executive but an even finer man. He had a lovely wry humour, a wisdom born not just from his natural intelligence but also from the people skills he honed over many years by being a great listener and conversationalist.

Joe, alas, finally succumbed last Friday to the cancer he had battled for eight and a half years since being diagnosed with stage four metastatic prostate cancer in October 2012 and given three years to live.

One of his sons, Joseph, posted the news on Facebook over the weekend in a moving and revealing tribute to his Dad. Here is an excerpt:

In January, I interviewed my father as he wanted to share some lessons learned with his community of friends and with the world. The following points sum up the lessons he wanted to share:

  • Treat everyone with respect and dignity and choose to make them feel good about themselves
  • Be accessible, accountable, and have fun in unexpected ways
  • Even when no one believes in you or your idea, do it anyway

About a week before he passed on, I had a strong sense that he would complete his transition when the Cherry Blossom tree outside our home would start to blossom fully, and he did. I found this comforting, and it made me feel more connected to him and the universe.

I know how much my dad loved me, my brother, my mom, our spouses, and our children. He always answered when I called, spoke openly about his faults and the work he did or was doing on himself, and lovingly challenged me when anger blinded me.

My dad loved St. Francis, in particular that St. Francis saw God in everyone and all living things – if you love God, then one must love and care for all neighbours, and not just the one down the street.

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” – St Francis

Joe Porcelli pictured when he joined Oscar de la Renta to develop the travel retail business in 2011

I experienced Joe’s kindness first-hand way back in 2010. In June that year he dropped me a note to say he was visiting London and would love to meet for lunch or dinner. I had to advise Joe that I could not as I had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and was “struggling a bit”.

“I am so sorry to hear of the diagnosis,” he wrote back immediately. “Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.  You have many friends around the world, including me, who will be sending you lots of healing energy. If you don’t mind I would like to keep in touch with you.”

And he did. And then as fate would have it, Joe got ill and I got well. The roles were reversed and I kept tabs on him, though not once did he forget to ask after me first. Joe was like that.

Joe wasn’t just a kind and intelligent guy, he was also a tough one. He lasted way beyond that early three-year prognosis. But in January this year he knew the end was near, and posted this loving note to his friends (including me) on Facebook:

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I’ve had the great fortune of knowing each of you personally, and your friendship has meant a lot me.

I share this update with you because too many times, I learned of the passing of a friend and wished I had known they were ill and had a chance to reach out. If inspired to do so, I welcome you to reach out to me.

In October of 2012, I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic prostate cancer and given three years to live. Two major cancer centers confirmed the diagnosis.

Through a combination of support from my family and friends, medication, and nutrition, as well as prayer, I have never felt better during these first eight years of treatment. As I enter my ninth year, the latest medical results indicate that I am running out of medical options. I am now in Hospice Care with a focus on pain management and ongoing quality of life.

I would like each of you to know how deeply I have appreciated and valued your friendship.

I wish you and your loved ones good health and the very best.

Stay safe, and take care!

Your friend,


I, like many others, sent him a note, knowing it would likely be our last exchange. Not quite. Even then, extraordinarily, he replied, his words as full of warmth as ever. Joe was saying “So long” as only Joe could.

  • My husband Frank and I met Joe and Dorie when we were students at St Joseph’s University. Frank drove the newlyweds from the Church to the reception. After graduation we lost track of each other but reconnected again by email only through events from St Joe’s.
    Finally in 2019, more than 50 years after their wedding we met both for lunch in Doylestown. We tried in two hours to catch up and found feeling very comfortable as if only a short time had passed instead of a lifetime. Joe did not mention his illness so we were very saddened when we received his letter of farewell a couple if months ago. At the same time we admired his courage and his thoughtfulness in reaching out to us.

    Our thoughts and prayers go to Dorie and his sons and grandchildren. Rest In Peace Joe.

    Frank and Trini Gallagher

  • A beautiful and moving tribute to a very beautiful person. The heavens will shine bright with you to help them. RIP Joe

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