Joe P. Ercolani
Born in Altus, Oklahoma on October 24th, 1946
Departed on November 5th, 2020 and resided in Denver, Colorado
On Thursday, November 5, 2020, thoughtful, inquisitive, loving, and extremely funny Joe Preston Ercolani passed away.
Joe Preston, along with twin brother Ronald Louis, were born October 24, 1946 to Louis and Kathryn Ercolani in Altus, Oklahoma. They moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Joe went to school and graduated from McGuinness Catholic High School. He served as student council president and Ron served as senior class president. Joe and Ron were just as you’d imagine two twin brothers to be, with a dry, but goofy, sense of humor. It was not unusual for them to switch places, or submit a photo of the other and pass it off as themselves. They remained close, always laughing, joking, and pranking, until Ron’s death in 2018.
Joe graduated from Oklahoma City University in 1968. Joe then traveled to South America for a short time, and while short, his time in South America and working on the Amazon river had a huge impact on his life.
He eventually moved to Mountain View, California in 1975. In May of 1978, Joe met Anne Julie Connelly, closed on a house in Palo Alto, California and bought a car all in the same week. He married Anne in 1981, and kept the car until the state paid him to stop driving it because of emissions standards in 2004.
Joe had two children, Lynn Tavia and Jeffrey Thomas, as well as a step-daughter Jennifer Anne, all of whom he adored. He enjoyed adventures with his family all over the world, whether they were road trips to Colorado, a beach trip to Maui, or tooling around Italy – he enjoyed travelling and exploring new places.
Like many young children, Joe wanted to be an astronaut. But unlike most young children, Joe’s interest in space, astrophysics, and NASA held strong over his lifetime. He was always ready with interesting facts about the latest NASA research, or Mars exploration, or the history of space exploration. After retiring, Joe was able to share this knowledge with thousands of people over nearly a decade as an employee at the NASA Ames Research Center’s Exploration Encounter.
While not defined by where he lived, Joe loved the Bay Area and the Stanford campus. On any given weekend, you could find him running or walking the Stanford Hills, aka “The Dish”, at least twice, often more. He would run through the campus, starting at the Stanford track or stadium, weaving past the bookstore, along to Lake Lagunita, then into the hills. Sometimes he ran alone, sometimes with a friend, and sometimes with one of his children riding their bike. He adopted the San Francisco sports teams as his own — spending Sundays watching the 49ers (particularly enjoying the Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice years), frequenting both Candlestick and PacBell Parks to watch the Giants, and cheering on the Golden State Warriors in recent years.
Joe was an avid runner, keeping milage journals for 34 years and proudly reminding his family that he had run the circumference of the earth, at least once. He would run, walk, or hike with friends and family whenever he had the chance.
Joe’s easy smile could light up a room. He was generous with his love and his time. He will be remembered by friends and family for his humor, his thoughtfulness and eloquence, and his inquisitive nature. He is survived by his wife, Anne; his kids, Jennifer, Lynn (Andrew), and Jeffrey; his sisters, Karen and Maria Jean; and his grandkids, Anna, Charlie, Mackenzie, and Donovan.