My first exposure to Joe was reading a fascinating article he wrote in the Village Voice back in the 1990’s. Only later, when he and my first wife became friends, did I meet him and realize that he was the one who authored that piece, as well as countless others in the NY Times, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and many more. We became fast friends, occasionally training or racing together, sometimes writing books together, once in a while schmoozing over coffee, and always laughing. Always.
Joe would matter-of-factly tell me stories about paddling a kayak from Chicago to New York the way I’d say I once rode the 3 train from the Bronx all the way to Brooklyn. He’d talk about being paddling in Jamaica Bay every day in the winter, or climbing to the highest peak in every state, and then the books or articles he’d write about those exploits. Whatever I’ve learned about writing came from Joe, who would have forbidden me from using a cliche and saying that he was a big man with an even bigger heart. But he was.
Though I didn’t see Joe often, all of my memories of him are fond ones. None more so than one night sitting outside Ozzie’s Coffee in Park Slope, as proudly held his newborn daughter, Willa, literally in the palm of his hand. Willa is grown and off in college now. Every time I’d talk to Joe it was clear how much he loved Willa, and his wife Beth. I wish Willa, Beth and all his friends and family strength as they mourn their loss. Joe will be missed, but he will not be forgotten.
Donations can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in Joe’s memory via their website www.pancan.org or by mailing checks to:
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
1500 Rosecrans Ave. Suite 200
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266