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Funeral Arrangements Set for 'Mayor Joe'

Hatboro's former mayor and businessman Joe Celano will be laid to rest on Nov. 8.

Joseph Celano of Hatboro died on Oct. 30. He was 96.

He was the beloved husband of the late Arlene Celano with whom he shared 64 years of marriage. Born in New York City, he was the son of Vito and Giovanina Celano.

The Celanos owned and operated the Hatboro Music Shop from 1945 until 2002. They served three generations of music customers. For 57 years Mr. Celano walked to work, rain or shine, and always had a smile for everyone.

He served the Borough of Hatboro on the Police Commission, as chairman of the board of the Hatboro Area YMCA and as mayor from 1981 until 2005. He also was the president of the Montgomery County Mayors Association.

As mayor, he performed more than 2,000 matrimonial ceremonies. He was known throughout the community as "Mayor Joe" and "Mr. Hatboro." He rode in horse carriages, fire trucks and convertibles in the annual Hatboro Christmas parade from 1981 until 2010.

Prior to World War II he worked as a welder in the construction of the Battleship USS MASSACHUSETTS, (BB 59), at the Fore River Ship Yard, Quincy, Mass. During WWII, he served in the United States Navy as an Aviation Chief Petty Officer, Air crewman Radar Technician, in a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura.

At the Naval Air Station Quonset Point, R.I., he was assigned to the Top Secret PV-1 Radio-Radar Anti-submarine Warfare Program under the Airborne Coordinating Group, Naval Research Laboratory. These men assisted MIT scientists and Raytheon engineers in the laboratory design of the ASD-1 Radar and performed exhaustive flight tests. The mission of the program was to establish an effective deterrent to the German U-boat "Wolf Pack" and Japanese submarines that were sinking large numbers of ships.

On Oct. 9, 1943, he was one of 50 hand-picked men in this Top Secret aircraft modification and installation program transferred to NAS Willow Grove. More than 2,100 patrol aircraft were modified at Willow Grove and delivered to the fleet. This program contributed in part to the effectiveness of over 90 percent losses to the German submarine fleet by the end of the war.

Following the war, the Hatboro Lions Club honored Celano in recognition of his heroic action in saving the lives of three children in a burning car fire on York Road in Hatboro on April 19, 1960. He persisted in the removal of the children from an engulfed vehicle.

He is survived by his son, Joseph Anthony Celano of Hatboro, his daughter, Julie C. Celano of Cambridge, Mass. His four grandchildren are Lauren Celano and Emily Celano of Boston, Mass., Jeffrey Wilson of Coos Bay, Ore., and Joseph Wilson and his wife Olga of Blakeslee, parents of his great-grandsons Owen and Gage. He was predeceased by his daughter, Angela Wilson of Warminster in 2006.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing on Nov. 7 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and again on Nov. 8th after 10 a.m. in Schneider Funeral Home, 431 N. York Road, Hatboro. His Funeral service will follow at 11 a.m. He will be buried with full military honors at the Hatboro Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please remember Mr. Celano through donations to the Millbrook Society, P.O. Box 506, Hatboro, PA 19040.

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