Joseph A. Varilla, 65, Xerox executive

Joseph A. Varilla of 5 Ascot Way, who was a Xerox executive despite being quadriplegic, died on Saturday evening, Dec. 7, at his home. He was 65 years old and the husband of Joan Mucha Varilla.
Mr. Varilla was afflicted with multiple sclerosis and for the past dozen years, was a functional quadriplegic. He nonetheless served as director of communications support at Xerox headquarters in Stamford, riding back and forth each day in a van supplied and staffed by the company.
“Through Xerox’s willingness to provide a conducive, caring work environment and support system, Mr. Varilla was able to achieve great success in the corporate world,” his family said. “Priding himself as a workaholic and very tenacious, he was an inspiration to all who knew him and won their admiration.”
A native of Freeland, Pa., Mr. Varilla was born on Aug. 11, 1937, a son of the late Andrew and Helen Bartkovich Varilla. He attended Freeland schools and graduated from Mining and Mechanical Institute Preparatory School in Freeland. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1959, and was a peacetime veteran of the U.S. Army.
Mr. Varilla began his career as a reporter for United Press International at its Frankfort, Ky., bureau. In 1963, he joined Xerox as editor of its corporate publication for employees. After rising through various management positions, he was named director of corporate communications in 1977 and was director of communications support at the time of his death.
He and his family came to Ridgefield in 1969 from Rochester, N.Y., living on Bruschi Lane for six years before moving to Ascot Way. He taught Christian education at Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown in the 1970s and was a member of St. Mary’s Church.
Mr. Varilla had also been interested in the schools in town and periodically wrote letters on issues involving education. In one 1971 letter, criticizing efforts to remove certain books from the schools, he wrote: “Maybe, instead of banning books, we should read a few. And maybe, instead of damning teachers, we should understand a few. Like they try to understand the kids.”
Mr. Varilla enjoyed traveling and being with his family.
Besides his wife of 42 years, he is survived by three daughters: Tracy Varilla of Greenwich, Mary Jones and her husband Stephen of New York, N.Y., and Jennifer Varilla of Old Tappan, N.J.; a brother, Frank E. Varilla of Willow Grove, Pa.; his mother-in-law, Mary Mucha of Hazleton, Pa.; and several nieces and nephews.
A sister, Virginia Varilla Daniele, died before him.
The Rev. Paul Murphy, parochial vicar, celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, Dec. 11, in St. Mary’s Church. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery, Drums, Pa.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Western Connecticut Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 1 Selleck Street, Norwalk, CT. 06855.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.