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Palm Memorial - Worden Chapel

140 South 6Th Street, Chowchilla, CA

OBITUARY

Joseph John Diaz

November 11, 1945November 29, 2019
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Joseph “Joe” John Diaz was born to Joe Diaz and Mary Howell on November 11, 1945 in San Jose, California. He passed away on November 29, 2019 in Madera, California.

Fast, competitive, and determined, Smokin’ Joe loved the thrill of a race track. Whether it was his old school days of racing Hard Tops at San Jose Speedway, to the championships won at Merced Speedway with his Late Model. He was well known and respected throughout California by some of the best drivers.

Although Joe loved being the one to cross the finish line first, one of his greatest accomplishments in life, was teaching and watching his children and grandchildren race as well. He designed the Chowchilla Barnburner race track in 2003 and promoted go-kart, quad and motorcycle racing. The competitors, ages spanning from two to eighty-two, came from all over the United States. Since he closed the track in 2011, many other Barnburner type race tracks have opened up throughout the years to keep these competitors going in the winter months. His legacy lives on.

If you knew Joe, you knew his “soft side” for his grandchildren was immeasurable. In his more recent years, his great grandchildren he called “the babies” gave him such joy.

Joe enjoyed going to the local casinos with his wife, Glenda, and even tolerated taking her to bingo at times. Although he wouldn’t admit it, he learned to enjoy the game and especially the friends.

He grew very close to his dogs in which he loved dearly. His lap dog Sassy, already misses him so much.

Joe is survived by his mother Mary Howell; his wife of 38 years, Glenda Jean Diaz; sons Joseph John Diaz, Jr., John Michael Diaz, Rick A. Diaz; daughters Tina Marie Bortoli, Keri Lee Diaz, Kimberly “Kimmy” Ann Hickman; brothers Antonio Adolfo Diaz; sister Cookie Day; 21 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren.

Joe is preceded in death by his father Joe Diaz, step-mother Alicia Diaz and brother Americo Guglielmo.

  • FAMILY

  • Mary Howell, Mother
  • Glenda Jean Diaz, Wife
  • Joseph John Diaz Jr., Son
  • John Michael Diaz, Son
  • Rick A. Diaz, Son
  • Tina Marie Bortoli, Daughter
  • Keri Lee Diaz, Daughter
  • Kimberly "Kimmy" Ann Hickman, Daughter
  • Antonio Adolfo Diaz, Brother
  • Cookie Day, Sister
  • Joseph John Diaz also leaves behind 21 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
  • PALLBEARERS

  • Rick Diaz
  • Ryan Diaz
  • Roman Diaz
  • Christian Hickman
  • Dylan Hickman
  • Ty Hickman

Services

  • Funeral Service Thursday, December 5, 2019

Memories

Joseph John Diaz

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Larry Pierini Jr

December 10, 2019

Joe, my first memory of you was at my dads wrecking yard and I needed to move your ford pickup and you told me to be careful and not to do a wheelie, me being the young dumb kid I was really was scared it was going to pop up on me, (lol, I still use that line today) thru the years I’ve always enjoyed chatting with you about whatever and then after my divorce I was so lost, you gave me a place where I could just resolve life and not worry about things, you got me a job at the machine shop and finally I started over, I will always be grateful for your help, even the time you picked up my sport bike from impound yard, so many great memories!!! God speed Smokin Joe, you’re doing it again!! -Larry Jr

Karen Gould

December 6, 2019

I was honored to be the photographer and free lance editor for the Chowchilla Barnburner. Getting to know Joe, Glenda, Kim, Rick and the rest of the family and friends there was a blessing. Joe cared deeply about the track he prepared for "his" riders and spent every waking hour making it as perfect as it could be. I will never forget how proud he was to see the Barnburner on the front cover of Cycle News. Joe made sure the Barnburner remained a "family affair" at every race. Joe was a gift to racers near and far that experienced "his track". On a personal level, Joe was a big teddy bear offering the very best of himself to all those that knew him. Blessings to Glenda and Joe's family.

Karen Gould

December 6, 2019

I was honored to be the photographer and free lance editor for the Chowchilla Barnburner. Getting to know Joe, Glenda, Kim, Rick and the rest of the family and friends there was a blessing. Joe cared deeply about the track he prepared for "his" riders and spent every waking hour making it as perfect as it could be. I will never forget how proud he was to see the Barnburner on the front cover of Cycle News. Joe made sure the Barnburner remained a "family affair" at every race. Joe was a gift to racers near and far that experienced "his track". On a personal level, Joe was a big teddy bear offering the very best of himself to all those that knew him. Blessings to Glenda and Joe's family.

Joey Santos

December 5, 2019

I enjoyed Racing with Joe. He was kind and funny Man, we pitted next to eachother a few times. He would help and share a funny joke here and there. Joe was the one who gave me my name "Jaming Joey Santos". RIP Joe, you were a good Man, say Hi to your Dad.

Glenda Diaz

December 5, 2019

(Page 2 of letter)

I know how hard it was for you to go through dialysis. Some days were just a lot harder for you than others. I wanted to give you a kidney so bad, but they wouldn’t let me because of the cancer. In my heart, I will always believe that if they would’ve let you have one of my kidneys, you would’ve came through this.You fought this horrible disease for a long time, and I could see the fight was just going out of you, and that you were getting really tired.
You drove your car up until the day before you went into the hospital, and I have to laugh because people would say oh “OMG You are letting him drive as sick as he is and not only that , you’re in the car with him!” Little did they know, I knew you would never let anything happen to me.
We had so much fun at the casinos and the bingo halls with our friends. I know how much you missed the barn burner, you would tell me, “I just wish we could do it over again”.
Just a few days back, you were telling Kim (Kimmy to you) that you really missed your dad. Now you are together again. So let the racing begin.
I love you forever and already miss you so much. With love from your wife for the third time. lol
Glenda

Glenda Diaz

December 5, 2019

Joe,
It’s such a sad and lonely day. Today will be the last time I will see you, but you will always be in my heart. I will never forget you and all you have done for me and my kids.It took three trips to Reno and three marriage license’s, but we finally got it right.lol
I was very proud of you and your racing career. Going through pictures a couple days ago with our grandson, Dylan,brought back so many wonderful memories. If it had wheels, you either drove or raced it. So many different race cars,old cars, old pickups, t- buckets, go-karts, motorcycles and the list goes on.
In 2008, I heard the words nobody wants to hear, “Glenda, you have cancer, it’s colon cancer”. You were so amazing taking care of me and we didn’t know whether I was going to live or die. I’ll never forget how you stood by me and wouldn’t let anyone take me to chemo except for you. Finally, I was in remission and what great news it was. Then in 2010 we heard those awful words again, “Glenda you have cancer, it’s melanoma cancer,” and there you were again right by my side. Once again, we got to hear good news that I was in remission. Just when we thought everything was ok and I was going to live a normal life, here comes 2012. The doctor repeated those dreadful words, “Glenda, the cancer is back”. So we endured another six months of chemo and doctor appointments. I will always cherish the words you kept telling me, “You can do this, I know you can do this, just keep fighting and don’t give up”.

(1st page of letter)

Tina Diaz

December 4, 2019

Dad, I will miss your voice , " I love you" , your sense of humor and concern for your kids. You always asked about every one of your 4 kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We never doubted your love for us. No one could ever take that away from us, not distance, illness and not your death. I will cherish the memories we had with you. I will never forget the day you asked for forgiveness from your 4 kids for not being a bigger part of our lives. We all love you very much. Death cannot separate us from you. Until we meet up again in the presence of our Lord and savior for all eternity.

Hannah Racing

December 4, 2019

What can you say about Joe that nobody already knows. He was such an amazing man, friendly and happy. I will always remember Joe with that dam cigar in his mouth. Last time I saw Joe we were playing bingo at Golden Valley high school. We both won the same game and he told me "Just give me your half because I'm old and I need the money" R.I.P. Joe Diaz. We will miss you

Tony Diaz jr.

December 3, 2019

Uncle Joe I will always remember going to Merced speedway watching you race modifieds or winning at Altamont Speeday in a legend or how about when we went down to PIR Raceway with my dad's super late model and running side by side with Kenny Schrader and some of Nascars up and comers. No matter what it was you were just happy to be involved in racing one way or another from dirt bikes and go karts to sprint cars and modifieds crew chief or driver it didn't matter. Thank you Uncle Joe for all the great memories

Joey Santosj

December 3, 2019

You were good Man Joe. Enjoyed Racing and being around you. You gave me my first Racing name, "Jaming Portugie Joey Santos". RIP Joe..

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