“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Joe seemed to be “born” with an incredible work ethic. Initially it was baseball; he would constantly work on his swing or fielding in the yard, the basement, or the park. Win or lose; 5 for 5 or 0 for 5 in a game; flawless in the field or having committed multiple errors; Joe could be found working to improve his form for hours on end.
Once the “golf bug” bit, all of Joe’s efforts were put into golf. He initially worked to hone his skills in the yard, playing his homemade “course” with lightweight golf balls and at the golf course or range whenever he could get there. After Joe’s failed attempt at a makeshift hitting net in the back yard and breaking a window at a neighbor on the next street over’s house, it was time for Joe to join a golf club. After getting a membership to Chestatee Golf Club, he practically lived at the golf course. During the school year, he would ask to be dropped off at Chestatee after school and would plead to stay until dark working on his game. He even negotiated for a “hybrid” home school/attend school semester the spring of his freshman year to try to get more time on the course and range. The summer gave him “unlimited” time to play, as he would arrive at the course at 8 AM and leave 10 to 12 hours later after having spent time on the range, the practice green, and the course.
Joe’s hard work paid off with his handicap dropping to a low of +2.0 as a 14-year-old. He became a true student of the game; analyzing his swing, watching every show and tournament on The Golf Channel when he wasn’t at the course, and reading every golf magazine and book he could get his hands on.
Heaven gained a scratch golfer and a gentle and caring soul
While he may have been a very promising golfer, he strived to be an equally solid citizen. He knew golf is a game of honor and etiquette, and Joe sought to exemplify the finest qualities a golfer could have. He shared his talent with anyone who was willing to listen, as he would give “tips” on the range or the course to other kids and even adults who were willing to listen. He enjoyed the camaraderie of others wherever he went and was proud of all his friends and the opportunity to play with them. He would light up when he spoke about who he played with every day.
Joe’s “passion” wasn’t all about physical or competitive accomplishments. Throughout his short life, he seemed to seek out and find people that needed some type of assistance whether it was in school, with behavior, in sports, or in reaching their goals. An elementary school teacher once said she was worried to see Joe becoming friendly with a notorious bully; thinking Joe would start getting in trouble. To her delight, Joe’s behavior didn’t change, and the other child became a “model student”. Joe was able to have a positive influence on him rather than the other way around. He reveled in the success of those around him.
“Life in Death”
Joe may not be with us in a physical sense anymore, but his memory lives on in so many people. People remember Joe not only for his physical abilities but, also, for how he carried himself on and off the course. No one is perfect, but Joe made every effort to be as perfect of a person as he could be.
Joe’s final physical act on Earth was the donation of five of his vital organs to others in need. He would have been devastated to have had a “gift” go unused that could help someone and their families and friends. Through Joe’s gifts, four people were given new life here on Earth, and they, along with their families and friends were given a second chance and spared the sorrow of losing a loved one.