1987-2010 Joshua Ray Smallwood, dearly beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend was born in Visalia December 16, 1987. Joshua passed from his earthly father's arms into his Heavenly Father's arms at 4:20 AM the morning of Sunday, February 7, 2010 surrounded by family and friends. Joshua had waged a valiant war against Germ Cell cancer for over a year; his faith and determination to conquer his illness carried him much farther than his body could withstand. Josh is a wonderful son and brother who will continue his vitally important role in our lives as we finish our days here on this earth; he will be missed constantly because he had a way that made you just love him. While his age put him in the middle of eight children, he was big brother and best friend to all his siblings. The love we all have for Josh cannot be put into words. It is impossible to write a fitting tribute for a young man whose life is really just beginning. Josh really had just decided on his first career path and began his education as an electrician and was working as an Apprentice Electrician, and he loved his work. He had many passions, but his first would be family & friends. Joshua really enjoyed being surrounded by people, he was comfortable with anyone, regardless of their age. One of the most treasured and unique characteristics of Josh is that he had the rare gift of becoming your friend the minute you met him. At home, he was absolutely cherished by his family; and while we know God loves him more than we and He needed to call him Home, it is so hard to imagine Josh being loved any greater than how we love him. Joshua really loved riding motorcycles at the desert and in the mountains; he enjoyed camping and fishing, golf, and snowboarding. As his family became closer to Josh's friends over the last year, we learned of two additional "sports" Josh was quite fond of; we have now learned that he enjoyed disc golf and he was really quite the "beer-pong" champion! Funny how both of those games can be played one handed, leaving one hand free to hold a beer. He so enjoyed his friends, even while suffering the effects of his illness and ongoing treatment, he spent every minute he could with them - whether that be here at home, at his friends homes, or at the hospital. Josh was very fortunate to have some amazing friends and family (you know who you are) that hung in there with him, accompanying him to UCLA and Stanford to be at his side while he waged his war. No one should ever have to endure what Josh suffered, especially considering he had just turned 21 years of age when his war began. In mid December, while visiting Josh's doctors at Stanford we were surprised yet again with another hospital admission and we began trying to determine just how much time Josh had spent in hospitals in 2009. Keeping in mind Josh hadn't ever had more than a cough or a cold, we counted more than 75 nights in the hospital through his battle. And his will to conquer never diminished. He showed so many of us what true courage really looks like. Joshua was raised in the Assemblies of God church and he was named specifically for two Biblical verses; Joshua 1:8,9. I named him Joshua so he would understand as he grew up that he was to do his best to model his life after Christ, know God's word, and fear nothing as his Lord would be with him wherever he went. My purpose was selfish; I wanted these things to indwell Joshua from a very early age. I held him just moments after he was born and just knew God had big plans for my boy. Men plan, God chuckles -but ultimately the verses Josh was named for became his battle cry. Josh had a quiet but deep, strong faith in his Lord and Savior. Josh is absent from us now, he is present with his Heavenly Father. And we're there with him. Be sure to attend Josh's Memorial to learn how. Joshua is survived by his parents, Jim & Vicki Smallwood, sisters Kendra Grudza, Chelsea Smallwood, Katlyn Dawson; brothers Noah Clevenger, Jordan Smallwood, Eddie Dawson and Zachary Dawson of Visalia; his mother Laurie Locke-Smallwood of Arizona, and a very large, supporting close extended family. A Memorial Service will be conducted on Saturday, February 13th at 10 AM at the former campus of Visalia First Assembly of God (where Joshua was raised) located at the southwest corner of Demaree & Walnut in Visalia. During the Memorial Service, there is a time set aside for those of you close to Josh to say a few words, so if you'd like, please put your thoughts in writing so you can get through it. The "Celebration of Josh" will follow immediately thereafter, details will be provided at Josh's Memorial and it will be a party Josh will truly, truly enjoy, and he'll be there with us just as he will ALWAYS be with us.
Published in Visalia Times-Delta on Feb. 11, 2010