Joseph Curtis ‘Joe’ Malia


Joseph Curtis ‘Joe’ Malia


“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

Joe Malia, age 93, died Thursday morning, Sept. 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. An interment will be held later at Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte, with the full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Billings YMCA, Youth and Children programs. A special thank you to the Dr. James Girolami, Dr. Larry Severa, the staff at Tender Nest and Stillwater Hospice for their caring and kindness towards our mother and father.

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5 thoughts on “Joseph Curtis ‘Joe’ Malia”

  1. Lynda Lees Adams

    Even though I have been a silent relative for years, I was sad to hear of Joe’s death also, although I was glad to see he made it to age 92. I remember him as being so young looking and youthful that I assumed he was younger than me (I’m 74).

    I’m Curtis Lees’ daughter Lynda Lees Adams. Joe’s parents pretty much raised my dad because my dad’s father deserted the family when he wa only four and his sister Rose was two. My grandmother Henrietta Curtis (Lees) Bessette, therefore, had to work as a clerk in Hennessey’s while Joe’s folks took care of her kids.

    I am sad to say that I last saw Joe at my dad’s funeral many many years ago. My latest contact with your family was at Mary’s house going over family photos after Ned died. I miss her too and now apologize for never sending the note and memorial that I intended to for over a year.

    I live on Long Island in New York, but my thoughts are with you. I’m so glad my sister Vickie Lees Jonson noticed the very interesting death notice. He was obviously as wonderful as I remember him even though my memories are a paltry few.

  2. Debbie Bennett Richards

    My deepest sympathy to the family of Joe. Joe and my dad Bill Bennett grew up together in Butte and were lifelong friends. A friendship they shared from Butte to California and back. Joe was a true friend to my dad and would drive from Billings to Butte to see him when he was sick. They spent many hours telling stories of the old times that were very memorable. I will never forget and will always appreciate Joe for being that special friend to my dad and I also was so fortunate to know him.

  3. He was the sweetest man ever!! I took care of him at tendernest!! I will definitely miss him!! Prayers out to his family!! Rich and Cheryl as well!! Always will be in my heart!!

  4. I worked with Joe Malia in the early 70s when he was principal of the Emma C Smith School
    Have special memories of the experiences of parents and Staff working together to make the school the best it could be. Rest in Peace Joe and Edith, You made a difference in many lives.
    My condolences to the family

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