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Obituary for Joseph Lee Emerick
Joseph Lee Emerick passed away, at his home, in the early morning hours of May 20, 2021. He was 64 years old. His life has been an inspiration to many people, and he will be greatly missed. Joe was born at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach on April 16, 1957. He was Lee and Louise Emerick’s first born, and their only son. As a child, Joe loved camping with his family, trout fishing in Quosatana Creek, riding bikes, stamp collecting, and playing backyard football with neighborhood friends in Rogue Hills. Joe became active in sports during his middle and high school years. He loved his memories of his days as a Panther. He excelled at both varsity football and wrestling, earning a wrestling scholarship at what was then Southern Oregon State College, and is now Southern Oregon University. College proved to not be for Joe, and his stay there was brief. Joe did achieve a personal goal though, when he completed a full marathon. In his late teens and early 20’s, Joe worked in several mills, he logged, he worked as a bouncer, and he was, at one point, co-owner of the GB Texaco gas station with his dad. Joe’s jobs took him back and forth to Gold Beach, Portland, San Diego, Alaska, and eventually, to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was hired by Sause Brothers Towing and Shipping Company in early 1985. Later that year, on July 9th, Joe was crushed between a tug and a barge, which left him critically injured, and in a trauma hospital for three weeks, followed by several months in a rehabilitation facility. Joe far exceeded all the doctors’ expectations, but the traumatic physical and emotional effects followed him throughout his life. Despite all of the trauma, and a surreal number of surgeries over the course of his life, Joe completed a successful career with Sause Brothers. In the latter years of his job, Joe transferred back over to the West Coast, and finished his career closer to his family. He retired, after 30 years, in 2015. He talked fondly of his “Sause family”, and expressed gratitude for the support he was given. Following his return to Oregon, Joe married Heather Tawney. He and Heather were married for many years, but divorced in 2018. He never remarried. When he was at his best, Joe loved walking the beaches, reading newspapers, spending time with his family, feeding the wildlife around his house, weight lifting, and running into friends around town. He loved cooking, especially barbecuing, and he was happiest when he was making people laugh at one of his endless stories. He rode a Harley when he lived in Hawaii, and was once part of a rowing team while living there. He loved helping his dad putter in the garden, and was a wonderful uncle, full of wild stories, mischief, fun, and imagination. His visits from Hawaii were always a highlight. Joe thrived, and seemed renewed with hope, after joining Alcoholics Anonymous in the summer of 2018. He cared deeply for his “AA family”, and was looking forward to his future. The memory of those almost 2 years will always be precious to his family. Joe was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and several treasured friends who remained dear to him throughout his lifetime. Joe leaves behind his sister, Cindy Emerick, his sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Dennis Hoffman, and his most treasured parts of his life: niece, Hannah Hoffman, nephew and “niece”, Garrett and Haley Hoffman, and his great-nephew, Hudson Hoffman, whom Joe adored beyond words. In addition to Joe’s family who loved him dearly, Joe has left behind heartbroken friends from all over, many of whom helped to sustain him longer than he may have thought possible. Joe’s family is grateful to Shelly Cardillo whose care and compassion for Joe helped to comfort him, and his family, through the last few weeks of his life. Joe always dreamed big in everything he did, lived life fully despite all of his struggles, and always carried with him visions of a brighter life for abused children. His family, therefore, gratefully requests that any desired donations be made in Joe’s memory to Wally’s House in Gold Beach. Joe’s remains will be placed at the Gold Beach cemetery in the near future, and a celebration of Joe’s life is scheduled for August 21st, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. in the Showcase Building at the Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach.