8 February, 1934 – 10 April, 2021
Born on February 8, 1934 in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Joe left home at the age of 14 with a grade eight education, but this never slowed him down. He was a hardworking man who became a very skilled heavy equipment operator primarily working with cable equipment, whether it was crane, back-hoe, or draglines.
Throughout his incredibly long career he worked on major projects including: the Dixon Dam, the Old Man River Dam, the Calgary Tower, the Olympic bobsled run, and once even hoisted a stuntman for a car crane drop. He loved his work and eventually retired just shy of his 77th Birthday.
Joe was passionate about his work as well as the projects he took on in his spare time. Working with his hands gave him great joy and he loved to share his talents. He built many steel windmills, wagons for his grandchildren, and even built a model-sized working steam engine. He loved showing off and puttering with his antique John Deere tractor and driving it in community organized events. Joe had a getaway cabin at Hidden Valley Golf Resort for 34 years, which eventually turned into his permanent home, where he was known as “the guy” that neighbours went to for help fixing anything.
Family and friends always loved visiting the cabin for a coffee, a game of golf, or sleepovers and pancakes. His secret to the perfect pancake was leaving lumps in the batter. Whether this was borne out of fact or just lazy mixing, his pancakes were always a crowd favorite. Joe shared his love of golf with all of his grandchildren when they came out to see him; however, some, if not most, were more thrilled with grandpa teaching them how to drive the golf cart. Summer time out at the cabin meant treats at the club house, grandpa dragging you out of the swimming hole when it was time to get home, and going on adventures collecting lost golf balls.
Hell and high water became Joe’s life when tragedy struck and a fire in 2010 caused him to lose his home in Hidden Valley. No sooner did he rebuild then tragedy struck again with the 2013 floods and Joe lost his home again. It was then that he decided to move to Vernon to be with his daughter Michelle. He had such tenacity and never let adversity or hardships hinder his spirit and love of life. Even through his knee replacements he kept his humour and wit about him, teasing the hospital staff in classic Joe fashion or by describing a green Popsicle as “tasting green”.
The tough, gruff exterior could not hide the kind and tender man he was. He had a love for animals and was known to take in a few dogs in his day, including his beloved Max and his long term companion Scruffy. Once in Vernon, he regularly fed the ducks in Polson Park and they even knew when his car pulled into the parking lot and would start gathering and follow him to his usual bench.
Joe always had time for friends and family, helping them in any way he could. He made frequent trips cross country to visit his brothers and sisters, the Gruber farm in Handel, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in Alberta, and many friends he had met throughout his life. Every year Joe would make a special trip to Irricana’s Pioneer Days, where he would enjoy watching classic car parades and tractor pulls, and would always have a story to go along with whatever car or tractor was going by. He loved sharing this experience with his grandchildren, and would get them out of bed at the crack of dawn to make the trek to Irricana in time for the pancake breakfast.
He will always be remembered for his ability to spin a tale from the past, and how he could always make himself laugh. He lived an extraordinary life and his spirit and love will be forever remembered and be carried on by his family.
Joe was predeceased by his parents, John and Louisa, brothers Frank and Gordon, his son Ken, and his wife Arlene.
Joe is survived by his children Barbara (Peter), Kevin (Jackie), Debbie (Alan) and Michelle (Dennis). He is also survived by his grandchildren Lisa, Scott, Jill, Kevin, Brittney, Christopher, Stephanie, Kendra, Breanne, and Jordan and his great grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.
Joe will be cremated in Vernon and his remains will be interred in Calgary in the family plot at a later date.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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Carol Smith (Kraus)
20 April 2021
We are sorry to hear of cousin Joe’s passing. We loved his sense of humour and zest for life.
Condolences to the family.
God bless. May he rest in peace.