Joe Ed Barbee

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Barbee, Joe Ed
78, of Paradise Valley, AZ passed away December 13, 2012. After a valiant battle against cancer, Joe Ed Barbee, a wonderful husband, a strong father, a loving grandfather, a generous uncle, a memorable mentor, and a source of wisdom and humor for many, left this life to begin his next adventure of life among the angels. Joe was born in Pharr, Texas, February 27, 1934 and raised in La Feria, Texas with six brothers. Growing up in the Great Depression provided opportunities that molded his desire for challenge and excellence. One of his fondest recollections was the day he won a school contest to see how many ways you could use a piece of paper…he was the original recycler. That could have been his beginning interest in discovery, figuring out how things worked and how to make them better. After serving in the U.S. Army Joe used his GI Bill to attend the University of Arizona where he earned his Electrical Engineering degree and also met the love of his life, Yolanda "Lani" Atonna. He and Lani married and Santa Maria, CA, where they began their family. Working for General Electric on guidance systems for missiles Joe contributed to many of NASA's history making moments of the 60's. Eventually Joe and family were transferred with GE across the country to Lenox, MA where he decided to pursue an advanced education. He attended Western New England University, graduating Cum Laude with a degree in law. After becoming patent law certified and moving to Ft. Wayne, IN, Joe worked for both GE and Magnavox in their intellectual properties offices. In 1976 he moved his family to Paradise Valley, AZ where he spent the majority of his law career, retiring from Motorola in 1999. Joe embraced his work in engineering and patent law. His work took Joe and Lani to Tokyo, Japan in the mid '90's. During their three year stay they made and entertained many U.S. and Japanese friends. Joe ventured the climb to the top of Mt. Fuji, twice - said to be quite the feat for a "gaigin". Retiring in Paradise Valley he started another chapter of his life that included lots of golf, a passionate commitment to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity building houses around the world, and an invaluable position with the Maricopa County Foster Care Review Board. He also began his long and brilliant battle with cancer. Joe leaves behind many who loved and respected him including; wife Lani, daughter Cynthia Barbee Suggs (Mike), two sons Adam Barbee (Diane) and Walter Barbee (Paula Calapez), 5 grandchildren Bridgett, Joseph, Alexandria, Jesse, and Addison Joe. Predeceased by his brother Roy Barbee, his surviving brothers are: Ramiro Rivera in San Diego, CA; in Southern Rio Grande Valley, Texas are David Barbee (Ellie), Willie Barbee (Tomasa),George Barbee (Linda), and James Barbee (Helen); and in Fresno, CA Ray "Buddy" Excinia (Carol) as well as many in-laws, nieces and nephews throughout the U.S. A celebration of Joe's life will be held the first weekend in March, 2013. Please contact a family member for details. All are welcomed and encouraged to come and share your favorite Joe memories. In lieu of flowers or gifts please consider making a donation in Joe's name to the Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, or the / Research.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Dec. 23, 2012
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