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Two Carpenters, a Half-Century of Building

One job: Wielding hammers, pounding nails, sharing laughs

16


In the slide show above, Joe Campo and Frank Procopio talk about their work as carpenters, mutual respect, and working until you’re 81.

Day in, day out, nearly 10,000 people show up at Boston University — not to go to school, but to go to work. Often unsung, their efforts make everything possible. This is one in a series of stories about jobs on campus and the people who do them.

If you’ve ever tuned in to Car Talk on National Public Radio, you have a sense of what it is like to interview carpenters Joe Campo and Frank Procopio. You’ll get an intriguing answer to any question, but only after an avalanche of heavily accented banter and belly laughs.

“They are the heart and soul of the place,” says a colleague at Boston University’s carpentry shop on Ashford Street, “but don’t believe a word they tell you!”

The two have built, repaired, and renovated wooden creations around campus for longer than most students have been alive, but say the job hasn’t gotten old.

Campo, 81, has been at the University since 1978 and wants to stay as long as he is fit and healthy. Procopio, a quarter century younger, joined in 1987.

“I hope I’m here as long as Joe’s been here,” Procopio says. “Maybe I’ll even be here longer than him, but I’m glad he hasn’t retired yet.”

“You’re never doing the same thing over, it’s always something different,” says Campo. “You get a lot of satisfaction when you build something and you see it on display.”

Each insists he could not have a better partner, but Campo shakes his head and flashes Procopio a warning: “Don’t build me up too much.”

“He taught me everything I know. I’m telling the truth!” laughs Procopio.

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.

16 Comments

16 Comments on Two Carpenters, a Half-Century of Building

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 9:20 am

    Great story!

  • Ron LaBrusciano on 01.15.2010 at 9:29 am

    Great to see these fine stories of unsung heroes who do so much to keep an institution running. Thanks for sharing these folks with us.

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 9:59 am

    Two Carpenters, a Half-Century of Building

    Another good story. It’s good to read about the people you see around the campus. Good job.

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 12:03 pm

    81, amazing! I hope I am as happy and healthy as he is when I’m his age! Thanks for another great story!

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 12:09 pm

    Very nice!

    I really enjoyed this. Great story and very well done. I liked the photos too.

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 2:18 pm

    That’s awesome. Joe Campo is the BEST!!! Thanks for appreciating these guys!!

  • Anonymous on 01.15.2010 at 4:44 pm

    Way to go Uncle Joe!! Love you!

  • Carinda on 01.15.2010 at 6:46 pm

    How Cool!

    Hey Uncle Joe,

    You made it to the big time!!! You’re now an internet star!!!

    Great story….you deserve all the praise you get because you are an amazing guy!!

    Love you and miss you!

  • Mary Ellen on 01.16.2010 at 8:38 am

    Great interviews

    This is a wonderful series……..congratulations to all of the people being profiled, as they are what makes BU a family!

  • Rocco on 01.16.2010 at 10:06 am

    My Uncle

    That’s my Uncle. Always been proud of that SOB

  • Kiala on 01.17.2010 at 12:11 am

    Joe Campo (my grandfather)

    aww i love this! its nice that my grandfather is appreciated like this! I LOVE YOU GRAMPY!

  • Ralph on 01.20.2010 at 7:21 pm

    Two Carpenters, a Half-Century of Building

    Way to go brother!! Awsome story and what a great partner …..We’re proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  • Christine Malachowski on 01.22.2010 at 10:03 am

    Uncle Frankie…great interview…your the best!

  • rocco civiello on 01.23.2010 at 12:05 am

    joe campo

    i have several pieces of pilgrim furniture in my home that was built in the 60s there still in fine shape,real quality. hi cous.

  • Oscar Tejada /PASTAZZA on 02.13.2010 at 12:21 am

    I checked it out Mr. campo

    Hey Mr campo its very nice sir you are very inspiring.
    I hope I can still work when I’m 81 years old, you don’t look 81 by the way.
    I thought you were 60. Keep building stuff and I’ll keep making you chicken Romano, no cheese, chicken fingers and all that good stuff at PASTAZZA

  • Patrick on 03.14.2010 at 10:18 pm

    Joe Campo

    Joe – What a great story. What was better than the story was having the chance to meet you. I am so glad and honored that I met you in Florida at the Sox game. You are a great man and I hope to see you at Fenway. Thanks for a great day Joe.

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