Staten Islander, Joseph E. Torres.(Lauren Lovallo/Staten Island Advance)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Joseph Torres believes in the power of partnering with the community and has donated his time and services to numerous agencies over the years. He is also a strong believer in Staten Island, his lifelong home, and its ability to thrive.
Where were you born?
I’m a native Staten Islander. I was born … at the old Staten Island Hospital on Castleton Avenue. I live here, I work here, and, of course, with my lovely wife’s approval, I plan to die here. Staten Island is home.
What is the best thing about living on Staten Island?
The best thing is also our best kept secret, which is that we are the last frontier for the true New Yorker. Last year we learned that 69.5 percent of current Staten Island residents are native to New York. If you love New York, you choose to live on Staten Island. As far as I’m concerned, Staten Island is the central borough and the other four (all of which I enjoy visiting very much) are the “outer boroughs.”
What was your first job?
My first job was delivering the Staten Island bi-weekly newspaper, but my best job was in my late teens working as the assistant general manager and maintenance worker for the catering concession in Snug Harbor owned by fellow Staten Islanders Frank and Jeanne Cretella. Frank demonstrated to me the value of hard work, humility and placing faith in people, which had a big impact on what drove many of my decisions in business later in life.
I had just obtained my driver’s license three months previously when Frank asked me to drive a large box truck loaded with catering equipment from Snug Harbor to Central Park. I told Frank, “I just got my driver’s license. My parents are uneasy about letting me drive their car, so this is probably not a good idea.” He said, “Joe, you can do this! I have faith in you! Take the keys and stay off the FDR Drive!” Frank essentially entrusted the operating of his business to me during the five years I worked for him. I could not have a better education for managing people, stress, long hours, meeting deadlines and understanding how the world works.
What are you working at now?
I work at Merrill Lynch. I am a financial planner working with families, institutions and charitable foundations. The most enjoyable aspect of what I do is the lasting bond that forms with the families I work for. Recognize that it takes complete trust and confidence for a family to place their financial planner. It is virtually impossible for a person to place that much faith in me and not have a lasting friendship develop.
Tell us about your wife and family.
My wife, Jackie, and I were married on March 28, 2008. She is a stay-at-home mom. Having both been raised by close families, which are still a very big part of our lives, helped us identify the right person for one another. We have one daughter, Lillian, who is 6 and attends Notre Dame Academy.
To which organizations, charitable agencies, not-for profits, etc., do you or have you belonged?
I am currently serving on the boards and hold community positions with the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, Project Hospitality, Richmond University Medical Center, The Giving Hope Network, and I am a former trustee of Notre Dame Academy. I currently serve as chairman for the capital project to build the new emergency room at RUMC (Richmond University Medical Center) and I co-chair the membership council at the S.I. Chamber of Commerce. I am also a member of the South Shore Rotary, Richmond County Referral Source, the Richmond County Country Club, Casa Belvedere, S.I. Collaborative Law Group and I volunteer at Tunnel2Towers. I have served as chairman of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce membership council. My community involvement has included, Staten Island Collective Law Group, the St. George Theatre, Richmond County Referral Source.
Have you ever received any awards or recognition?
I was voted no. 1 of Top 31 Future People of Influence in 2015 by SIEDC (Staten Island Economic Development Corporation). My wife has also nominated me for husband of the year for 10 years running.
Who inspired you the most in your life?
My parents and sister. Their example helped me learn very early on that when family holds top priority everything else falls into place. When I first met my wife while I was in my mid-30s, the beliefs instilled while I was young helped me make the best and easiest decision in my life.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would improve our ability to appreciate differences of opinion. We have become divided to the point where we appear to wish misfortune upon those with whom we disagree, even if this misfortune leads to the detriment of our nation. We should all hope for positive outcomes, even if the effort is driven by an opposing individual or group. We should also recognize the value of education that comes from appreciating diverse points of view.
Get to know Joe
His passion for pizza: “From my earliest memories, pizza has become more than an obsession. My first pizza experience was, I believe in 1972, served at Pal Joey’s. Truth be told, the experience had such a profound influence that many years later, I purchased the home from the owner of Pal Joey’s when he left the Island. I soon installed a small commercial oven. Anyone who has been served my pizza can attest that I am an Expert Pizza Man. I will face criticism for this, but I confess to be a nondiscriminatory, universally pizza enthusiast. I’ll enjoy everything from Denino’s to Domino’s. Invite me for pizza and I am there.”
“I attended PS 45, I.S. 27 and Monsignor Farrell. I graduated from New York University. I majored in economics, but I was enrolled in their pre-med curriculum. It is said that the rigors of studying to become a physician have produced the worlds finest attorneys and finance professionals. I have tremendous respect for those prospering in the health care industry. It requires a special kind of dedication. I attended the Lubin School of Business’ Center for Professional Education to earn my CFP credential.”
What he does to relax
“I enjoy golfing cooking and collecting vinyl records. I have an enormous amount of records — at least 15,000 LPs (by his count). Keep in mind that records take up a lot of space, so this is proof that I am married to an extraordinary, understanding and supportive woman. Since even the most supportive spouse has her limits, I have now resorted to smuggling newly acquired records into the house after she has fallen asleep.”