Alfred Conti Borda writes:
It was 1967 that I met Joe for the first time when we were both serving as teachers at the Birkirkara Primary School.
He impressed me at once with his total dedication to teaching, referring to his pupils under his care as “my students”, as if they were his own. Since I was only a fledgling teacher at the time, he was for me an example to emulate and also to observe other experienced educators who taught me how the ideal future teacher could be moulded.
Once Joe narrated a World War II episode when he was still a young teenager. It was in mid-January 1941 when the mighty Luftwaffe was determined to bomb and sink the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious berthed at French Creek.
Joe, together with his colleagues, scurried to a vantage point at the Upper Barrakka to witness the whole scenario. It was only years later he realized that they had risked their lives then.
Joseph Portelli was also an enthusiastic member of the Malta Union of Teachers and he remained so all his life, having been appointed to sit on the council for a considerable number of years. Even after his retirement, he was the sole representative of the senior members on the MUT
Right up to the end. He continued to attend the monthly outings organised by the Retired Educators’ Section of the MUT.
Joe was very active in the religious circles of the church of St Dominic in Valletta, where he was born, bred and lived nearly all his life. He used to be present in all the functions of Holy Week and the festivities pertaining to the feast of his favourite saint.
In this light, I am quite sure that the Lord has an appropriate place for Joe under His protective wing.
My fondest sympathies to his family.
May he rest in peace.
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