Memories of Joe
Last week's blog touched on the fact that I had attended a memorial service for a golfing buddy. His name is Joe, whom I’ve had the pleasure of calling a friend for over 25 years. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who died suddenly in the arms of his dear wife Darlene from a pulmonary embolism while in Florida this winter. My favorite memory of Joe was witnessing a hole-in-one he shot back in 2006. Joe not only bought everyone at the course a drink after the round, but also treated his foursome to dinner that evening! The photo above shows him being awarded a plaque commemorating the accomplishment by his playing partners. We’re all laughing because, as a joke, we superimposed the photo to the right onto the plaque as we were awarding it to him.
Joe worked for race car owner and businessman Roger Penske early in his career, before buying a Chevrolet dealership from Roger in 1981. Naturally, with me working at Ford, there was always a lot of good natured ribbing between us over the years. That being said, I was sad to see his dealership forced out of business during the GM bankruptcy in 2009. He was so upset at General Motors (and went to his grave that way) that he not only sold the land associated with his dealership to a competitor, he ended up buying a Lexus with the license plate shown below.
Joe and his wife love traveling all over the country in their motorhome; having accumulated over a million miles with several different models, each one bigger and more elaborate than the next. I recall Joe giving us a tour of his latest model, and in one cabinet were bottles and bottles of his favorite drink, Disaronno liqueur, stacked like solders on multiple shelves. But Joe was like an airline pilot, refusing to imbibe the day before a trip. That practice paid off a few years later, as they were traveling back from Florida one spring along I-75 in the hills of Tennessee. The motorhome suddenly had a tire blow-out and it went careening down a large ravine into a wooded area. Joe was able to fortunately keep the vehicle from rolling over, until it finally stopped when a large tree got in the way. Both had been buckled in at the time, so they survived the crash with only scratches and bruises. Fortunately a National Guard caravan was passing by and stopped to help. He said the motorhome was totaled and was a royal mess inside, but he claimed every bottle of Disaronno survived the crash! That catastrophe marked the end of their motorhome adventures as they never bought another one.
Darlene is Irish through-and-through, so needless to say, we have tons of photos celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with them over the years. My favorite is shown below along with their wedding photo from 1967.