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Joseph Gutierrez, Japan Airlines station manager at Kennedy Airport, dies at 63

Joseph Gutierrez, 63, of Northport died on Nov.

Joseph Gutierrez, 63, of Northport died on Nov. 3. Credit: Diane Gutierrez

Joseph Gutierrez traveled all over the world for decades for his job at Japan Airlines, which he enjoyed.

But there was one place where he loved being more than anyplace else, said Diane Gutierrez, his wife of 42 years.

“The ideal evening for Joe would be at home, homemade dinner with me and [our daughters] … That would be perfection for Joe,” she said.

Northport resident Joseph Gutierrez died of prostate cancer Nov. 3. He was 63 years old.

A devoted father who loved spending time with his two daughters, he rose through the ranks of the airline industry to become a vice president-station manager of Japan Airlines at Kennedy Airport in Queens.

He also was managing director of Terminal One Group Association, a limited partnership of Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa at Kennedy Airport.

Gutierrez was born July 18, 1956, to Oscar Gutierrez and Nancy Connor. Raised in Wantagh and Eatons Neck, he graduated from Northport High School in 1974. 

He then attended Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus in Brookville for a few years, studying meteorology and history, his wife said.

He and his high school sweetheart, then known as Diane DiLillo, married in 1977. 

They had two daughters, Darla Salva Cruz, 31, and Dori-Jo Gutierrez, 20.

Joseph Gutierrez always talked about wanting to have a career in the airline industry, so he worked for several airlines, including in cargo for Alitalia and as a ramp agent for Piedmont Airlines, over a 10-year period, his wife said.

In 1986, he earned his flight dispatch license, and a year later began working as a dispatch agent for Japan Airlines at Kennedy Airport, she said.

He worked his way up the ranks, and became a station manager about six years ago. 

Turner Maynor, who met Gutierrez almost 20 years ago as a Japan Airlines colleague, considered him a friend, too, he said.

Gutierrez was a hard worker who was legendary in the company for his dedication to his job, said Maynor, who recently retired from Japan Airlines’ Manhattan office, where he worked as vice president, The Americas, and regional manager of the Eastern Region USA. 

“If you said the name Joe at JFK, everybody knew who you were referencing,” said Maynor, a Naples, Florida, resident.

When the duties of Gutierrez's job called, he always responded without hesitation, his wife said. 

During snowstorms, he would remain at the airport for days at work, she said.

“The nature of the airline business is such that, if you can’t be devoted to it, you can’t do it, especially at Joe’s level,” she said.

Still, he did have a few pastimes, she said.

“He liked to read. … He loved music, like classic rock. And that was a love that he shared very much with our daughters,” Diane Gutierrez said.

Her husband was also a history buff and had a large vinyl record collection that included albums from a wide range of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles and the Eagles, she said.

Joseph Gutierrez’s funeral was held at The Brueggemann Funeral Home in East Northport on Nov. 7. He was buried at Northport Rural Cemetery.

In addition to his wife and daughters, Gutierrez is survived by his parents; stepmother, Lynne Gutierrez; sisters, Patricia and Cynthia; brother, David Gutierrez; and son-in-law, Stefan Salva Cruz.

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