January 18, 1943-October 13, 2013
Resident of Santa Cruz
Joe Walsh, born John Joseph Walsh in Pittsburgh, Pa., died of esophageal cancer at his home on Oct 13, surrounded by his family. Joe's colorful stories of his youth in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bellevue were full of humor, family loyalty and adventure. When he was 20 he drove to California in a TR3 with his life-long friend Ed. No one thought they would last more than a few weeks away from Bellevue, but both Ed and Joe soon found work building tract homes in Orange County, and enrolled in community college. In 1966, Joe transferred to San Francisco State, where he studied literature and met his wife Sara in a Shakespeare class. They lived in the Haight-Ashbury before joining the Peace Corps and serving two very eventful years in Santuario, a mountain village in the Department of Risaralda in Western Colombia. They returned to finish their senior year at UCSC, and lived in Bonny Doon for many years before moving to the Santa Cruz Westside. Joe worked for more than forty years in construction, forming his own company; but he made a point of working only for people he liked - with the result that many clients became close friends.
Joe loved soccer. He joined the adult soccer league and played in its early years on several teams, some of which he founded. He served on the Boards of both the County Youth and Adult Leagues, coached boys, girls and adult soccer, and managed the playing fields. It was his idea to start the field fund for adult soccer, which led to partnering with Good Shepherd School to use their fields.
He was a master story-teller; and he remembered our histories better than we did. His greatest joy was his family. If you knew Joe, you heard countless stories about Pittsburgh and Colombia, adventures in Santa Cruz County, jobs he'd worked on, and above all about his children and grandchildren, their amazing qualities and his deep love for them. We all relied, as did his friends, on Joe's creative solutions for fixing anything from a roof leak to a stuck car door or skunks under the porch - and as we enjoyed his enthusiasm for hard work and problem-solving, we could always count on his intelligence, patience, remarkable integrity, genuine interest in other people and unfailing sense of humor. He was truly a man who lived to be of service to others.
Joe is survived by his wife of 46 years, Sara, of Santa Cruz; their son Brendan, his wife Yuki, and their children Kai and Nami Walsh of San Diego; their daughter Lilah Walsh of Portland, Oregon; Joe's sister Jane Walsh of Santa Cruz; many nephews and nieces, and hundreds of friends. We thank Hospice, and a great many of those friends, for their compassionate help and support. Donations to Hospice of Santa Cruz, or esophageal cancer research are appreciated.
A Celebration of Joe's life will be held in the Cowell College Provost's House on the UCSC Campus on Saturday, November 9 at 1:00.
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Nov. 1, 2013