Born and raised in Chicago, 84-year-old Joe is the epitome of a lifelong Cubs fan. As a kid, Joe and his friends would spend their summer days scouring the city collecting discarded bottles. With 25 pounds of glass, they earned the fifty cents they needed to purchase a ticket to Wrigley Field. One day, a pretty blonde girl in Joe’s kindergarten class caught his attention—the girl’s name was Jean, and years later she and Joe got married. Joe remembers a day when they were both in kindergarten, and he kissed her behind the school’s piano. She was the first girl he ever knew who loved sports as much as he did, which is part of the reason why he fell so deeply in love with her.
Throughout their lives the couple spent countless dates, casual afternoons and family outings with their kids at Wrigley field cheering on the Cubs together. Rooting for the Cubs was truly a family passion, and Joe has taken all of his kids and grandkids to Wrigley Field at least once. In his youth, Joe served in the Korean War for 18 months, where he and his wife were stationed in Anchorage, Alaska—this is also where they had their first child. Joe now has six kids, 12 grandkids, and three great-grandkids— he supported his family by working as a professional automobile salesman after graduating from Ford Sales School. He is very close with his children, as his Wish nominator stated, “You can tell he was a heck of a dad by how close all of his kids are.”
Currently, Joe is very into fitness and takes his exercise seriously at his Brookdale community. He takes great pride in assisting with and occasionally leading the fitness classes offered at the community, which Desiree, his Wish nominator, says is impressive considering his vision impairments. Joe has macular degeneration, which has been a pretty difficult problem for him since there is no way to treat it or reduce the blurred vision that it causes. That being said, he has learned the exercise routines by heart and often contributes extra tips to the class. Though Joe wishes to be more involved in the community, he is limited to the amount of activities he can participate in due to his disease. Other than his eyesight though, Desiree says that Joe is “sharp as a tack,” always cracking jokes and exhibiting a great personality.
The last time Joe saw a game at the Wrigley Field stadium was about five years ago, but he still remains a loyal fan. One of his fondest memories is sharing a hot dog and a coke with Jean while watching the Cubs play. Unfortunately, Jean’s health started to decline several years ago. Sadly, Jean passed away and Joe has since moved to Jacksonville, FL to be closer to his kids. Nevertheless, he still watches every Cubs game— his daughters gave him a TV subscription for his birthday, so he never misses a game! He often stays up late into the night so that he can remain up to date with everything that is going on with the team. Joe is confident that this is the year that the Cubs will win the World Series.
Joe’s Wish of a Lifetime was to go back to Chicago and Wrigley Field one last time with his daughter, Susie. Joe says, “With a strong voice I would sing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ during the 7th inning stretch and relive those happy moments I had with my wife Jean.” Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale were thrilled to send Joe and Susie back to Chicago to cheer on the Cubs at the Cross Town Classic versus the White Sox on July 28th, 2016. The pair got to sit right up front, and Joe received a special visit from a Cubs Ambassador thanking him for being such a great fan to the team!
Photos by Michael Courier