Since Saturday evening, Joseph J. DeVivo's children have been waiting with a mixture of hope and dread for the next phone call from police to learn of his fate.
DeVivo, 87, a widowed grandfather living alone in Stroud Township, has been missing since Saturday, the same day another man was found driving his car in North Carolina.
Joseph J. DeVivo is 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds with green eyes. Anyone who has seen him or has information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or contact Stroud Area Regional Police Detective Richard Wolbert at 570-421-6800. Police are interested in anyone who might have seen DeVivo after 8 p.m. Thursday and whether he was with anyone else at the time.
"We have no idea where he is, what happened to him or how his car ended up being driven by someone else in another state," said an anxious Joseph A. DeVivo, 59, of Bethlehem Township, who stayed in touch with his father at least twice a week and last talked to him by phone Thursday.
"He was supposed to come to my daughter's birthday party, but he told me he wasn't feeling well," the younger DeVivo said. "He said he'd call back if he changed his mind, but he never did."
Something not right
DeVivo called his father's home at 8 a.m. Saturday, but got no answer. He then called the cellphone number, but again got no answer.
His brother, Tom DeVivo of Kunkletown, went by the house, but their father and his car were not there.
"I asked Tom and my sister Kathy in Kunkletown when they last heard from him," Joseph A. DeVivo said. "It had been a couple of days. When Saturday morning became Saturday afternoon and there was still no sign of him, we knew something wasn't right. He never goes far from home when he goes out, and he certainly never goes away on long trips."
Car in N.C.
DeVivo said his father doesn't have senility or Alzheimer's. He also said his father hadn't mentioned seeing any suspicious people or vehicles in the neighborhood and hadn't complained about fearing to live alone.
The siblings went to the Stroud Area Regional Police station in East Stroudsburg Saturday afternoon to report their father missing. Less than two hours later, they got word a man they don't know and had never met had been found driving their father's Chevy Malibu in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area of North Carolina.
Police were unavailable Monday to identify that man or comment on any other details about the investigation and search for the elder DeVivo.
"Just suddenly deciding to up and go away somewhere without telling us is so uncharacteristic of him," said Joseph A. DeVivo.
The verbal portrait DeVivo painted of his father doesn't depict a man given to spontaneous, unplanned or erratic behavior.
Joseph J. DeVivo was born in Newark, N.J., in 1924, to a married couple whose last names were Campanara.
"He was the youngest of six or seven children," his son said.
DeVivo's mother died in childbirth, and his physically ailing father was unable to care for the children. So, baby Joseph was raised by his aunt and uncle, John and Mollie DeVivo, in Stroudsburg.
At that time, the DeVivo and Quaresimo families owned and operated the tailor business DeVivo, Quaresimo & Son, on Main Street in Stroudsburg. The business existed from 1915 to 1990.
Young Joseph played football at Stroudsburg High School, graduated from there in 1941 and enrolled at what was then East Stroudsburg State Teachers College. The attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year prompted him to leave college and enlist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with whom he repaired roads and bridges in Europe during World War II.
After the war, he returned home, was put in charge of DeVivo's Market at Ninth and Sarah streets, met and married Eleanor DeVivo and started a family.
"He was a devoted family man," his son recalled. "He never smoke, drank or gambled. He seldom took vacations. He never spent any money on himself. He just worked hard and did his best to help raise us."
Passions: Golf, teaching
Joseph J. DeVivo decided a grocer's income was too little to raise a family on. So, he went back to school, earned his degree from East Stroudsburg University and taught for 30 years at J.M. Hill Elementary School in East Stroudsburg, retiring in 1988 at age 64.
"Joe kept a slogan at the top of his blackboard," recalled Jim Reynolds, DeVivo's friend and a health and physical education teacher at J.M. Hill from 1964 to 1974. "It read, 'Knowledge given out Monday through Friday. Bring your own container.'
"I've known him to be just a super guy with a lot of energy," Reynolds said. "He was very enthusiastic about education and enjoyed being around kids during his career."
With teaching done, DeVivo had more time to pursue his other great passion, golf.
"Joe's just a really great guy," said longtime friend Mike Wells, golf pro at Glen Brook Golf Club, where DeVivo has been a member. "He's very giving, wouldn't hurt a fly, just a true gentleman. He and his friend were always the first out on the golf course."
Reynolds and Wells both expressed shock at news of DeVivo's disappearance.
"I'm saying a prayer for him and his family," Wells said.
The family likewise is praying for a phone call that will bring them good news.
"Maybe he's safe in a hospital somewhere with no memory of who he is or how he got there," Joseph A. DeVivo said. "We're hoping."