Joseph Cameron Alston
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ALSTON, JOSEPH CAMERON Dec. 20, 1926 to April 16, 2008 Native San Diegan Joe Alston, 81, passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon April 16, 2008, while surrounded by his family at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, California. Joe was born in San Diego, California in 1926 to Jennie M. and Edwin S. Alston and attended Roosevelt Junior High School and San Diego High School. As a youngster in San Diego, Joe learned to play badminton at the Municipal Gymnasium in Balboa Park and it was through badminton that he met and later married Lois Smedley, also a San Diego native. They enjoyed over 56 wonderful years together. Ultimately, Joe came to be recognized as one of the greatest badminton players ever to play in the United States. He competed internationally in Great Britain, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, Mexico, Jamaica and Peru. Joe's career highlights include 12 U.S. Nationals Championship Titles from 1951 to 1967, including two mixed doubles titles with his wife Lois. Joe also won the World Invitational Men's Singles Championship in Scotland in 1957, and is the last American to hold an All-England title, which he won in 1956. Sports Illustrated Magazine recognized Joe's badminton success by featuring him on the cover in 1955, making him the only badminton player ever to receive such an honor. After serving his country as an officer in WWII in the Merchant Marine, Joe graduated from San Diego State University where he was a member of the Omega Xi/Kappa Alpha Fraternity. In 1951, he began a 30-year career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was assigned to Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota and Detroit, Michigan before returning to California where he worked in the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. While with the FBI, he investigated a variety of criminal violations eventually specializing in the area of kidnapping and extortions where he coordinated all major cases of this nature for the Los Angeles office in the late 1960's to late 1970's. Joe was involved in a number of notable kidnap and/or extortion cases including: D.B. Cooper and Frank Sinatra, Jr., and was the lead Los Angeles Agent in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Following his retirement from the FBI in 1981, Joe joined PCI, an LA based security consulting firm, specializing in kidnapping and extortion cases. For over a decade, he traveled extensively around the world serving as an advocate for the victims of these crimes. Joe's infectious smile, magnetic personality, and fun-loving spirit will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Lois, and son Nick, son Tony and wife Sharon, and his three grandchildren, Amy, Grant, and Jack. Joe was predeceased by his sister Francis Brewer and his two brothers, Hank and Fred Alston. A celebration of life event will be held by the family at a later date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the San Diego Hall of Champions, telephone number (619) 699-2332, where Joe was inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1993.

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Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Apr. 22, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
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18 entries
May 15, 2008
To my friend Tony, my love and well wishes go out to you and your family. Your Dad was like a movie star to us kids...Larger than life. I am really sorry for the loss you and your family are suffering.. God Bless you all.
Linda Souza-Walling
May 2, 2008
Condolence to Lois and family.
Joes's smile is unforgetable.
God bless.
Maurice ,your mechanic downtown.
Maurice Sun
April 29, 2008
What I remember about Mr. Alston is that he sure could make Mrs. Alston laugh. He always had a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face. My thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Alston, Tony & Sharon and Nick
Juliet Kelly
April 28, 2008
The Blooms send out our thoughts and prayers. Although I only briefly met Joe, based upon the stories from his proud son, Tony, Joe was a man that i always admired from afar.

To the Alston Family, our condolences go out to you. The Swatter Fraternity has lost one of its founding fathers.
ken bloom
April 26, 2008
Lois and Tony, I'm so very sorry to hear about Joe. He was always very kind to me and so interested in anyone who loved the game of badminton. He also left behind a great family. My thoughts are with you even though I will not be able to attend the celebration.
Cheryl White
April 26, 2008
My condolences to the Alston family, I didi not met personally him here in Peru, but people have great reminiscenses of his visit here in Lima. A special embrace to Tony who I haven't seen long ago.
German Valdez
April 26, 2008
To the Alston family, the Main family sends their condolences. Tony and Nick, your dad sure made the most of his time and had a great run. Laura and I hope all is well with you and your families.
Dave Main
April 24, 2008
My acquaintance with Joe Alston was limited but very pleasant. I bought my first car from Joe in about 1950 or '51. It was a beautiful 1947 Ford convertible, black with a white top and red leather seats. Actually the car had been consigned by Joe to Sachs Motors out on El Cajon Boulevard, but because Johnny Sachs was a customer of the bank where my dad was a director, Johnny put me in touch with Joe to make my deal with him directly.

I was 17 and this was my first big negotiation, but Joe, who must have been 25 at the time, was very fair and we closed the deal, $1,400 (!) I think it was. But several days later I discovered the top wasn't working quite right. I called Joe and he agreed to fix it, although he probably had no legal obligation to do so. That was the kind of guy he was. My recollection is that he lived on Albatross Street in Mission Hills at the time.

(A few years ago I was reintroduced to Johnny Sachs and reminded him of this transaction. At age 94 he still remembered, and offered to give me back my money if I was unhappy with the deal!)

I remember Joe Alston as a stand-up guy with a well-defined sense of right and wrong. My guess is that he had a very constructive influence on everyone he met. I send heartfelt condolences to all his family.

Bill Black
April 23, 2008
After being next door neighbors for almost 24 years we will surely miss seeing Joe's smiling face when we go for walks in the neighborhood.

Joe could always be found tinkering in the garage or working in the yard. We will miss our conversations with Joe.

We remember how much Joe loved his black lab "Tara" and how she always barked at the hot air ballons that flew over our homes.

Joe was a terrific neighbor and friend. Our family will truly miss Joe.
Pat and Charlie Eshleman
Charlie & Pat Eshleman
April 23, 2008
Dear Lois, we will miss all of the wonderful times we shared together. Our summers in San Diego will never be the same. We were so privledged to share your anniversary at the Marine Room two years ago. We could have never ask for better next door neighbors. We hope Lois you will find what comfort you can in the fact that Joe was with you for 56 years and that you made his life such a happy one - We love you,
Daryll and Claire
Daryll & Claire Bourret
April 23, 2008
So sorry. Such a great guy.
Jerry Davison
April 22, 2008
Dear Lois, sorry to read about the loss of my dear friend Joe. We had been friends for many years and always enjoyed seeing each other and spending pleasant times.
Joe Schloss
April 22, 2008
I always remember Joe's beautiful smile. He and Lois would pick up Lynn McClain and go to Saska's once a week. Jerry & I live in the condo below where Lynn lived. We watched all the family over the years, wonderful memories.......I never knew all the accomplishments, and athletic abilities in his life. What a complete life he lived, we should all be so blessed....... Janet Harris
Janet Harris
April 22, 2008
I'm terribly sorry to hear of Little Joe's passing. After many decades we finally met again about two years ago at an Aztec Alumni gathering. He made it a point to get a seat across from me at the Phi Kappa Gamma sorority table where we reminist about old times. I lived directly across from the Alston family on Albatross St. Bud (with whom I went to school) and I actually taught Joe the game of badminton playing on my large front lawn on a court marked out with lines of flour. Joe was too small to use a regular badminton racquet so he played with a childs dime store tennis recquet. We had great times together.
Bob Chamberlain
April 22, 2008
Dad's Celebration of Life will be on Sunday May 18th from 2:00 to 5:00 PM at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
Nick Alston
April 22, 2008
I'm so sorry we've lost Joe. I treasure my memories of him at San Diego High School when he was a cheerleader and student leader. He always was a good guy and great friend. Then when we began working together on the SDHS reunions it was just like old times. We won't forget him! My love and prayers to Lois and family. Love, Dottie Dibb Marsden
Dorothy Marsden
April 22, 2008
My late husband Bill had many memories to share of his badminton experiences with Joe. He held Joe in high esteem. God Bless.
Heather Berry
April 22, 2008
My condolences to the Alston and Smedley families. I grew up with Joe's youngest son, Tony. Joe (Tony's friends, even into their 20's still called him Mr. Alston) was just a very nice and decent man. He never talked about his accomplishments, but instead offered encouragement and kind words to myself and other boys and girls eager to learn and play the great sport of Badminton. Of everything, I will remember Joe's humility most. God Bless.
gary shelstad
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