Rockford’s ‘Mr. Fourth of July’ Joe Marino dies at 92

ROCKFORD – Joe Marino, the man known as “Mr. Fourth of July,” has died at the age of 92, his family announced Wednesday.

The son of Italian immigrants, Marino was born on Sept. 27, 1926, in Rockford. He served in World War II and received the American Area Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal and Victory Medal before returning to Rockford. He was heavily involved in community events and festivals, most notably the downtown Fourth of July fireworks, for nearly 70 years.

He was also known for TV commercials for Hanley Furniture that aired in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

“The family greatly appreciates the outpouring of support and love from many thousands through social media and other platforms during his final days,” son Mike Marino posted on Facebook. “He was humbly grateful to receive the prayers and good wishes expressed. We believe the plaque adorning his statue in Joe Marino Park on State Street in Rockford well describes his life.”

The plaque reads: “Joe Marino – Mr. Fourth of July. A lifelong Rockford resident and beloved civic leader who championed community celebrations and festivals for half a century. His leadership inspired generations of local children and adults to enthusiastically embrace their American values of love, honor and service to their city, country and families.”

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said while Marino had countless volunteers since he took the Fourth of July reigns in 1963, he remained the driving force behind the effort.

“Joe made a tremendous impact on our city,” McNamara said. “People talk every year about the money he’s raising for the Fourth of July but the thing that often isn’t discussed enough is the time he’s put in and the memories that every single one of us gets to enjoy with our kids and family members. He truly created long-lasting family memories for thousands of families across our city and across our region.”

In lieu of flowers, Marino’s family is asking that donations be made to the Rockford Fourth of July Committee, P.O. Box 1027, Rockford, IL 61105. Funeral arrangements are pending. R.

Photo: Mike Marino/Facebook

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