If you felt the earthquake Tuesday, March 22, around 3 a.m., that was Joseph “Joe” Alvise Viani, Jr., 81, saying goodbye to this earth. While joining in passing his beloved father State Assemblyman Giuseppe Joe Viani and mother Mrs. Senior Mineral County Julia Adelle (Baldini) Viani; brother William (Bill) Norman Viani; eldest son Larry Ray Moss; youngest son Mauro Joseph Viani, granddaughters Lisa Rae (Moss) Oberhansli and Robin Leann Moss (which he called Chucker) and great granddaughter Harlie Josephine Viani.
Joe was known around town by the previous generation as Little Joe, running Joe’s Gym. Now days just Joe, original owner of Joe’s Tavern. His doctor was the only one that was allowed to call him “Mean Old Italian.” His full blooded Italian parents traveled by ship on the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in The United States of America. They took the train from New York City to Sparks, Nevada. They soon relocated to Virginia City. Then making their permeant home Hawthorne.
He was raised in a home where what the Father said you did. Joe then graduated Mineral County High School in 1952, “Once a Serpent Always a Serpent.” Joe graduated college from the University of Nevada Reno. Where he majored in Physical Education and minored in Business. During his time at UNR he also played for the football team, assisted with the boxing team, played basketball and participated in the ROTC program. Joe enlisted in the Army where he was proud to serve his country. He received a note that stated he must return home and help with the family business ending his career in the Army as a Capitan.
Upon returning to Hawthorne he met Hazel Mae (Hardy) Moss, it was love at first sight. The prettiest woman in town; long black hair; green eyes; great body and stiletto high heels. What Joe wanted Joe got, come hell or high water. To his surprise she was as tough as him; being raised with four brothers who taught her how to fight.
Hazel came with four children: Larry; Danny; Randy and Sherry (Moss), and then they were blessed with three more: Elena, Paula and Mauro.
He was a member and supported multiple clubs: Elks; VFW; Fraternal Order of Eagles and American Legion. There wasn’t a sport he didn’t like and he donated generously. Joe was always a stanch Democrat and loved politics. Before working out was even in, Joe exercised and showered twice a day. He had to stay fit so he could run Joe’s Gym. Where everyone has a story about Joe and his club, but Joe was a giver not a taker. He cared for the community with many holiday and meal traditions. The “Thursday Night Family Spaghetti Feed” and Thanksgiving dinner is most remembered. Joe’s kids spent every Thanksgiving at the bar helping feed others. He never turned anyone away and no one left hungry. Feeding people was his way to let them know he loved them. He also continued on his family tradition of coloring Easter eggs for the community. Colored eggs would be placed along the bar for all to enjoy and those who needed them could take them home to their families.
Joe’s Tavern was sold in 2006, this was huge heart break not only for Joe but his family as well. It was not just a bar and casino, it was home. Those walls hold a lot of memories for Joe’s family. Christmas Eve was traditionally spent every year gathered together, for food; song; laughter; gifts; games and a little booze. Christmas Eve has never been the same. Joe’s pride and joy was his grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. He never missed a game. His legacy and love of sports carries on through them. One of Joe’s favorite pass times in retirement was golfing. Which sadly, he never played again after the passing of his golf partner and son, Mauro.
Still the love of his life Hazel Mae fell ill in April of 2011. When Hazel was not well enough to spend her days with him in their home, he began spending his days in the nursing home. Joe’s Chevy truck would be found parked in the “No Parking Zone” in front of the entrance to the nursing home. While he would be found inside, in a recliner, hand in hand with his wife. Their love never died.
Joe is survived by his wife; five children; 26 grandchildren; 39 great grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. As well as his nephew, Todd Viani, and niece, Julia White.