In Memoriam: Joe Cupolo, NCMS Member Services Director

Joseph Cupolo, III

North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Member Services Director for the eastern portion of the state, Joseph Cupolo, III, passed away on Wednesday, May 23. He was 59 years old.

A GoFundMe page has been started to assist Joe’s family with medical bills and other expenses. CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Joe, who started at the NCMS as Associate Director for Member Services in 2015, was respected for his friendly, low-key — yet persistent — approach to attracting new NCMS members, and was much admired for his eternally upbeat and positive attitude. He will be greatly missed by his NCMS family — both staff and the many physicians and physician assistants he came to know during his time here.

Family and a strong work ethic were important to Joe. As he said in his welcome article in the internal NCMS newsletter: “I grew up in a family of Italian bread bakers in Brooklyn, NY, and when I turned 3-years-old my dad decided that in order to spend more time with me, he would take me out with him on his delivery route. It was back then when my work ethic was formed since I can still hear Dad saying: ’Joey, if you want to eat, you have to work.’”

He began his sales career as part of his family’s bakery business eventually moving to corporate sales with Wonder Bread/Hostess Cake in New York City, ultimately becoming responsible for $25 million in annual sales and overseeing 10 branch managers and 100 sales reps.

Joe moved to North Carolina in 2007 and went to work as an account executive for Capitol Broadcasting and Curtis Media Group.

Along the way, he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology (he was pre-med) at Siena College in Albany, NY.

NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson had this to say about Joe: “Joe Cupolo, also known as ‘Broadway Joe’ for his love of New York,  was one of the most kind, caring and thoughtful human beings that I ever knew. He was a dedicated, loyal employee whose strong work ethic set the bar for others to follow. He was a kind soul whose contributions to the medical profession will not be forgotten. He had a very positive outlook on life and showed incredible strength and resolve during his illness.”

Joe is survived by his wife, Lisa Ditta-Cupolo, and his daughter, Alexa Jensen, who just graduated from high school. He also is survived by his mother, Grace Cupolo, his sisters, Gina Provenzano and JoAnn Wallace, and brother, John Cupolo. Joe was predeceased by his father, Joseph Cupolo Jr.

Our condolences and sympathy go out to Lisa and Alexa and all of Joe’s family and many friends.


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  • Clayton Henkel

    Joe was a wonderful man who was devoted to his family. He was one of the most positive and thoughtful people I’ve ever met, and he had a profound impact on me in the few years we worked together. My heart goes out to Lisa, Alexa and his extended family. Joe was one- of-a-kind, and will certainly be missed.

  • Rich Rapiti

    I met Joe when we were selling advertising time for a radio station in Princeton, New Jersey. We were 2 short italian guys who bonded quickly – always calling each other by our last names. Our mutual friendship and respect for each other has lasted 20 years. We both had to travel a distance to the station and didn’t really like the management style there – so we leaned on each other for moral support.

    We weren’t allowed to be in the office during the day – so we would meet at a local library to do paperwork – thinking no one would ever find us there….and they never did!
    I resigned after 6 months (Joe lasted a bit longer) but I hadn’t left the station yet. One day I left a voice mail message for him saying I was going shopping on company time (it was the Christmas period) and to meet me at the mall for lunch…and if management didn’t like it they could fire me! Little did I know that Joe was driving with one of the managers and they decided to listen to each other’s messages as a goof. The manager never confronted me on it…but that story became a running gag with Joe and I and it survived countless retelling. Every year since then – I would make contact with him reminding him …”hey Cupolo …its Rapiti ..when we going Christmas shopping?”. Oh how I will miss not making that call this year.

    As far as Joe Cupolo the man – the North Carolina Medical Society has a wonderful tribute to him on their website. There is little I can add to their description of Joe….he was truly a kind, caring and thoughtful man in such an unassuming but powerful way. How fortunate I was….and how grateful I am…to have had a Joe Cupolo in my life. He profoundly touched the lives of everyone who ever met and knew him.

    I extend my deepest of condolences to his wife Lisa and daughter Alexa and to his mother Grace, his sisters Gina and JoAnn and his brother John.

    Rest in peace…my Italian brother.

  • Dana Carroll Lucas

    Joe brought a daily brightness to the NCMS offices and his rays of positivity reached to NCMS members and their patients. No task was ever larger than Joe’s stead-fast commitment to the best health care access for all of North Carolina. He was the king of networking, connecting like minded to collaborate for healthier tomorrows. My life has been enriched as a colleague to Joe at NCMS. My prayers of strength to Joes’s wife and daughter, who were his everything, and to his Mom, who lost her son, too soon.

  • Ed Secord

    Joe was a stand up guy,there for others in their time of need . He could have been or done anything I believe, but he chose to help those around him.

  • Susan Morrow

    God saw he was getting tired,
    So he put his arms around him,
    And whispered “Come with me”,
    With tearful eyes we watched him suffer,
    And saw him fade away,
    Although we love him dearly,
    We could not make him stay,
    A golden heart stopped beating,
    Hard working hands to rest,
    God broke our hearts to prove to us,
    He only takes the best,
    Although his heart stopped beating,
    His love will always remain,
    His absence puts upon our hearts,
    A very heavy strain,
    For now he is in a place of everlasting rest,
    We just have to understand that God,
    He only takes the best.

  • Marge Bailey

    Joe was a dear friend. He will be missed, but never forgotten…he gave us so much to remember.

  • Lisa Ditta-Cupolo

    Thank you dear Bob,Shawn and all of The NCMS extended family. My Joe loved his duties for the Medical Society and all the people he interacted with. Forever missed ❤️✝️

  • dave tayloe

    Joe was very attentive to our needs as we have tried to rejuvenate the Wayne County Medical Society. He always responded by helping me recruit speakers for our meetings. Sad to know that he is gone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Dave Tayloe, jr.

  • Marian Hawkins

    Sending heartfelt condolences and our deepest sympathies to NCMS, his wife, Lisa, and his daughter, Alexa.

  • Shawn Scott

    Thank you, Dr. Willson. He was loved and he will be missed. A sad time for the NCMS Family.

  • Chuck Willson

    Joe was a fine man who represented the NCMS professionally and with enthusiasm. I will attend his service on June 16.