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.
Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Apr. 22, 2008.