special tributes to my father - page #4

Joe was a unique strong and gentle man who was blessed with the special gift of kindness and caring about others. He had traits to be greatly admired and respected and I feel privileged to have known him. I remember you as a beautiful young couple who came to our home years ago and then being reunited many years later. I believe nothing happens by accident and everything happens for a reason.

Gregory and I were drawn to you like a magnet. I had recently completed chemotherapy for cancer and Joe asked me in his quiet way if he could pray and anoint me. I was honored! I also appreciate you both taking the time from your busy schedule to come to our home to pray for Gregory and me after his surgery for kidney cancer and for graciously inviting us to your home to join you in prayer. Those meetings were so inspiring and uplifting. I am so thankful and will always remember those special times. It was always heartwarming being with you both.

Claudia, you certainly complimented each other and made quite a team. It was wonderful to witness the mutual love and respect you had for one another. You were beautiful role models. The caring-the sharing Joe freely gave touched my life in more ways than I can say. Joe was always so positive!

The last time I was with him was the night before he entered the hospital (like the Last Supper). He encouraged me to stay in the Word and complimented me about my family...telling me they were beautiful and it was the result of the fruits of my labor. He also prayed for Gregory that evening right before we parted. When he was in the hospital, I brought him Holy Water from Lourdes and he asked you to pray for me. He also wrote me two wonderful notes with powerful messages which I will treasure always.

He was selfless! He was an angel that God put here on earth. I truly believe that. Joe is gone from this world. His physical presence is no more. Yet the memory of him- the legacy of his life will continue long past his day, long past our passing. Joe left a legacy of the beauty of the Spirit, of the knowledge of a husband/father who loved and loved and loved his wife and his children, of a person who saw hope, who was compassionate, caring, encouraging and most importantly a man of God.

Your faithful vigil is over and so are his struggles. He is in peace with loved ones and his God. He has gone home early to prepare a place for us. Joe enveloped his loved ones in his wings; he gave you also the capacity to take flight. May you always be blessed with the feeling that Joe, through the gentle sound of the air's rush when a bird takes flight, is close to us, always loving, always loving. May his soul find rest in the wings of God. Joe and you have three beautiful and gentle sons to carry on his work. I, as well as my family, will always be here for you---you are part our family and I feel truly blessed! May God Bless you and comfort you at this most difficult time in your life!


Family relative, Long Island, NY

I address this letter to a very blessed family – my heart swells as I remember the words spoken, the smiles, the tears, and the love expressed by each of you as you memorialized the dad and husband who centered his life on Christ and ultimately brought each of us to do the same. I want to thank you for the opportunity given to me and my husband to not only witness the beautiful services, but I need to thank you for helping me through my own grief for a very special friend. I came away inspired by a life that can be led so totally dedicated to Christ. Since I knew him for so many years, I have been enlightened by the way he lived his life devoted to all of you and so many others that I, too, could possibly achieve the goal of living as Christ like as possible. When I returned home, my email to friends who knew I was so devastated included my wish to be able to live my life so that Scripture could describe and define who I am.

A big part of that witness of Christ in your family was to see and hear such loving, kind, young men who referred to their father as their mentor in life. As a parent myself, I can only respect and be in awe of the testimony and lives of these young men. I have one son, Brian, who is not a believe and struggles emotionally in many areas of his life so I richly appreciate and respect the peace and love taught to each of you by your parents and their focus on the Lord. As Joe’s friend, I am overjoyed that he was so richly rewarded by his sons.

I also write this because I did sense a hunger to hear events of Joe’s life. When I worked for Joe, he was affiliated in so many directions over the years. He was the most dynamic businessman I have ever worked for. He could speak to Prime Ministers of foreign countries and businessmen all over the world and when he was done, he would take out the garbage or sweep the floor in the office. I say that with all respect that he was the most unpretentious person I knew and he did whatever had to be done. (I think he really loved shoveling the snow at the office). His various business ventures always motivated me to work my hardest and gave me a desire to be a part of whatever was happening. Joe had a way of negotiating contracts and getting involved in these things that left you in awe of how he could work things out. Whenever there was an opportunity to find work for someone or help someone in need, it was included in our business activities. He worked hard and never hesitated to give of himself to anyone in need. It was all very exciting and I loved being a part of it.

Dale Gaines

Office Assistant to my father, Justin Purchasing Corporation, FL

You know, I've been thinking about your dad lately, and every time I think of him- I can't help it but I really see him in my spirit rejoicing in heaven! I see him with my dad and with Dr. Walker (my Spanish teacher that just died this summer) and with Russell- rejoicing and watching us. I see him with this huge smile on his face (because you know, your dad ALWAYS had a smile on his face!!), and he's watching us, rooting us on.

I listen to Keith Green and Rich Mullins a lot, and if you know them, you know they both also left this earth awhile ago. But their music still ministers to me and God uses it to show me things and help me! I see them, too, up in heaven, watching us and it's like- God let them leave a legacy behind for their brothers and sisters in Christ. It's like- their music is only here for us. And it's their way of helping us, even from up in heaven. And with all this in mind, I realize now more than ever, that we are not separated from those in the family of God that are already in heaven- we are connected with them because we are all in Christ! They have just finished the race before us, and now they are waiting at the finish line, cheering for us, urging us forward.

That's what Hebrews 12 is talking about when it says we have such a great cloud of witnesses. And every time I think of your dad, I think of that. God let him leave his legacy behind too. An amazing legacy, and one that you won't even be able to know all of until you are in heaven with him. You know, I never had a dad, but when I think of what one would be like, of course I think of your dad. He was the most constant father figure in my life- Ever. And even though I didn't spend hours at your house every day (except for when I used your piano to practice while I didn't have one!), the image of your dad in my mind -the only one that I can clearly and vividly remember- is him smiling so big, with his arms open wide, yelling my name and engulfing me in a hug.

God is showing me a lot right now, even as I write this letter, I can't help but cry because your dad was like a physical Jesus to me. Jesus was always my dad, but your dad was here physically. And God used him to give me good dad hugs that I never got. Your dad was the only man that ever hugged me like a dad and always had his arms wide open when he saw me. So now I can see Jesus, with His arms open wide. Because God used your dad to comfort, and in a way even be, a father to the fatherless. And that will stay with me forever.

So I just wanted to share that with you guys so you could know my story. I'm sorry it took me so long to write and tell you! Right now I'm writing a senior paper on the development of children without fathers (how the absence of a father effects development- i still haven't thought of a good way to put that phrase into a title),and it will take the whole semester to write. But while I'm writing it I know I'll know even more in depth of how your dad has impacted my life. While doing research, I read about "social fathers" (that even though kids don't have dads, they label someone in their life as their "father", whether it is verbalized or not). And I also wanted to say that I know your dad is watching us, and rooting us on. And I can't wait to finally be up there, ya know? With your dad, and with my dad, and most importantly, with Jesus. I can't wait to see them finally, ya know? But our time on earth is not gonna be for much longer. We are in the world, but not of the world. That is what God has been showing me lately more and more. And I can't wait for Him to come back soon to take me away with Him.

Sarah Selkirk

Childhood friend of our family, Long Island, NY

There were times when having lunch (i.e. soup, sandwich, side salad, fruit) I clear the field on my desk and lay it all out. Whenever Joe came into the office and saw this layout he would stop in front of my desk and say to me "Audrey you eat so good" "It's just great how you eat so good". Hearing him say that always took the guilt away. Joe is so truly missed by us all.


NYU Employee, NYC

When our children were young, we got them involved in CSB at Huntington Baptist Church. That's where we met Walter Wilmott, Carlo Gargulio, and Dave Fagerland. What memorable times we both shared with our boys. We especially looked forward to the weekend camp outs. They often started out with a meal of hot dogs and beans cooked on a Coleman stove and marsh mellows toasted over a fire. Joe and I would marvel at the energy that Walter Wilmott had for these kids and the Christian wisdom he imparted to each boy.

The event we all looked forward to the most was Winter Weekend. The trip always started out with prayer and the kids lining up behind each driver who would take them up to a camp in the Catskills. Carlo and Dave always stopped at McDonalds before arriving at camp. The weekend was filled with activities: hikes, tubing down the "hill", skit night, good food (but no soda or candy-Walter said it was "bad" for the kids), games in the gym, a bible moment at each meal, and a Sunday service conducted by the boys. Then it was homeward bound for some rest and recuperation. What a great time we all had with our boys. This is what comes to my mind when I think about Joe and what we did together in the past. I miss him and his gentle witness.


Friends of my parents, Long Island, NY

I did not have the privilege of knowing your husband or father but I did know your son's who made an impact on me. I knew that he must have been a special and wonderful man to have raised such Godly men. Justin and Tad were some of the most fun loving and God driven men I have met in my lifetime and for that it speaks measures of the example their father must have been. He left behind a great legacy whether or not in the eyes of men but in the eyes of God in his son's! Even though I never got to meet him I know that he touched my life through his children and I want to say thanks for that. His son's devotion to the Lord and family spread to all they come in contact with. Thanks for allowing his love and faithfulness to touch me and my families lives.