Bob McLoughlin has known Joseph “Joe” LaRiccia for some 40 years, and he knew he was a great plumber who had a very successful plumbing business for many years before he retired as an inspector. “When our plumbing inspector Anthony Lardieri retired in 2018, I needed to hire a replacement,” said McLoughlin, retired construction official/electrical subcode official in West Caldwell, N.J. “We advertised for the position, but no one responded. I called Joe and asked him to come out of retirement and work part-time as our plumbing subcode. He jumped at the opportunity.”
Joseph LaRiccia (right) with Tom Pitcherello as he receives the New Jersey Plumbing Inspectors Association’s 2020 Plumbing Inspector of the Year Award.
LaRiccia retired once again, but shortly after, friends became aware he has cancer, which has metastasized. As he fights his battle, his friends want him to know how much he has meant to them, focusing on the good memories.
“Joe was my plumbing inspector for the 11 years when I worked in Milburn,” said Stephen Jones, now the International Code Council’s senior government relations regional manager for North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee. “He is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated code professionals I ever had the pleasure of working with. Joe knows his codebooks inside and out. He was often my go-to source for information and he is constantly sought out by his peers for his knowledge and expertise. Even if you thought you knew something, Joe was the one guy in the office who actually knew the history of why things were put in the code or changed. He is a credit to the plumbing profession and to code officials everywhere. He is one of a kind.”
Longtime friends say they met LaRiccia when he was a licensed plumber. Then he became an inspector about 30 years ago, said Jerry Eger, construction official for Millburn Township. “He is very dedicated to his profession, and he is always willing to give help and advice. He is a bundle of energy.”
Eger said he first worked alongside LaRiccia when Eger applied for the job as the building inspector in Millburn when Joe was the plumbing inspector. After Jones retired from the township, Eger became LaRiccia’s boss. “Since most of my jobs were in the area where Joe was inspecting, we had a very good work relationship,” Eger said. “Joe was responsible for getting me elected as the president of the Essex County Code Enforcement Officials Association, which I still hold. Joe is the treasurer. Joe also was very helpful when I was going for my plumbing inspector license. I have learned a lot from Joe over the years. Not only plumbing codes but how to do the job and how to treat people.”
Eger said LaRiccia always brought his wife Isabella with him to conferences in Atlantic City, and Eger got to be good friends with her as well. McLoughlin noted LaRiccia and his wife raised four girls and one son in Montclair before building a house in Roseland.
Tom Pitcherello, code specialist for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, said he met LaRiccia when he started working in the Code Assistance Unit at NJDCA. “I have always respected Joe as a very acknowledged plumbing inspector on codes,” Pitcherello said. “If Joe had a question on a code issue, he would always give me a call for a second opinion. When Joe was presented the New Jersey Plumbing Inspectors Association’s Plumbing Inspector of the Year Award this year, I was honored when Joe wanted a picture of the two of us. Joe is a respected plumbing inspector and gentleman.”
LaRiccia also received the 2017 Vince “Ozzie” Pellecchia (Person of the Year) Award from the New Jersey Building Officials Association.
And dedicated to the codes? Oh, yeah, McLoughlin said. “This past summer, Joe and his family had planned a vacation to Montana to go fly fishing. He is a skilled fly fisherman, but the COVID virus had other plans. Instead, Joe and Isabell went to Cape May for a week. I asked him what he does on vacation, and he was so excited to tell me that he takes the plumbing and mechanical codes books to the beach to study. Now that is dedication.”
“Joe is a wealth of knowledge, and we love him here in West Caldwell.”