Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mr. Joe, WWII Vet, made it to 90 yrs of age

Joe O'Connor made it to his 90th birthday when his body finally gave out. When asked a few years back what the secret was to his long life he said he had done everything WRONG.....drank too much, ate the wrong food, smoked, and got himself in too many scrapes during his life.

He and Stella were companions for over 50 years. How many of us will be able to match that record? He was sometimes irascible and overbearing, but to Stella he was a friend and companion; they spent many hours at Bingo and the Boatyard where they lounged on his "yacht" that never left the dock in all the years he was "fixing" it.

Joe never let a dollar stay very long in his pocket. His money and he had brief visits...never trusted banks or doctors.  "Things" were purchased on a whim and very often those "things" lasted short periods of time until he realized he didn't want or need them (3-wheeled bike, motor scooter, a variety of boats).

Joe's beginnings were in Western Maryland on his grandmother's farm. At an early age (not sure if he was even legal) he joined the Navy. Just about that time World War II was experiencing its major battles. Twice he was blown out of his ship by German sub torpedoes, and twice he survived. He was one of only five shipmates who made it out alive from one of those tragedies. Navy buddies jokingly told Joe he was bad luck and tried to avoid any relationship with him onboard.

For drinking money Joe fought in several prize fights when his Navy ships docked at major ports. Whether he won more than he lost is a big questionmark. Its just like the fisherman whose fish grows in size every time he tells the story. If you believed Joe, he could have qualified for the Olympic Boxing Team, except he didn't have enough money to pay for cab fare to and from the fights.

After serving in the Navy he drove a cab and learned all there was to know about the City of Baltimore. While he did that he also delivered liquor to bars in East Baltimore. He worked at the Inland Steel Plant and retired after many years bending and forming metal products.

Joe's family did not plan on any service for him after his passing on 12/5/08, so this little piece will serve as the only record highlighting parts of his life. There are some plans by his family to throw his ashes in the Chesapeake Bay where he liked to fish.... that would have made him happy. There was an article published recently describing the astonishing death rate of our WWII Vets. Something like 1200 per day are leaving us. So Joe becomes part of that statistic.

So lets thank Joe for his service to America and for being around Stella for so many years, sharing in her good and not so good times. We'll be thinking of you. 

You beat the odds again Joe and made it to 90! 


Jo-Anne said...

This was a really nice tribute for Mr. Joe .
And if you want good pizza we have a cheap place here that has great pizza..

David Ettlin said...

A very eloquest tribute... I passed along a link to Fred Rasmussen at the Sun's obit desk.