Lifelong Center Moriches resident, sheriff, and Center Moriches High School security guard, Joseph Townsend, was selected as this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade grand marshal.
“It’s an honor because I have lived in this town all my life,” he said, excited for the big day.
Townsend, 78, is known for giving back to his community and loving his family. He is an Irishman, though he is more known for his Irish heritage from his wife, Patricia Townsend, who served as a Christmas parade judge; she died about three years ago. Patricia, a Bellport native, summered in the Moriches, where they met boating. They were married for 51 years. Together they had two daughters, Sandi, surname Dennis, and Sarah, surname Davis.
“She was the Irish one in the family. We always followed along with the things she did, like green carnations and Irish soda bread contests,” said Sandi.
Sandi is a paraprofessional in the Center Moriches School District. She and her husband, Tom, have two children, Molly, 17, and Isabel, 11. Sarah and her husband, Alan, both went to Center Moriches High School and have one child named Andrew, 6. Both families stayed in Center Moriches, living only blocks away from Townsend, who still lives in the family home he built in 1976 on Bellevue Avenue.
Townsend grew up in Center Moriches and graduated from the high school in 1962. By 1967, he was hired by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, where he retired as deputy sheriff investigator in 1995. During his time with the Sheriff’s Department, he held the title of president of the deputy sheriff investigator association for five years. He was also honored as Police Officer of The Year in 1984.
Townsend is also an active member of the Center Moriches Fire Department, which he joined in 1965. He also served as chief of the department from 1971 to 1978 and was honored as Fireman of The Year in 1991. In 1981, he was elected to the fire department’s board of commissioners, where he served for 25 years, 10 as chairman.
In 1996, he joined the Center Moriches High School as a security guard. In 2007, he was appointed coordinator. In 2021, he stepped down from that position, but continued as a security guard. A proud alum of the school, he has attended the prom for the past 25 years, including for both his daughters and his two granddaughters.
Townsend said he has had a great life and is proud to live in such a great community surrounded by so many friends and family. According to his daughter Sandi, his entire family is proud of him and plans to attend the party and the parade, then continue to celebrate him after.
Ahead of the parade, Townsend will be celebrated on Friday, March 10 at the St. Patrick Parade Party at Rock Hill Country Club, from 7 to 11 p.m.
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