I’ve already written about having a sense of mortality when I see so many people die way before their time. That feeling just hit me again as my mother-in-law’s neighbor Joe Alexi died at age 64. Joe graduated from Mathews High School here in Vienna, OH. After high school Joe married and bought a home in Vienna. It’s a good thing he did because Vienna was lucky to have him. Joe showed just how much the “Average Joe” could do for a community. Truth is that if every community had an “Average Joe” like Joe Alexi this country would be a lot better off.
Joe had two sons that played baseball so Joe stepped up and volunteered to coach pee-wee and Little League baseball. Joe was a member of the Vienna Athletic Club and was the guy that could be seen walking through the stands at our high school football and basketball games selling 50-50 raffle tickets. Joe saw a need for our boys to learn basketball at an early age and started and coached the St. Vincent DePaul Church Basketball Program for 25 years. Another man helped him who is named, Joe so the program affectionately became known in the community as, “Joe ball.”
Joe was a member of St.Vincent’s and could be seen there as an usher, a cook at the fish fry, or setting up tables or pushing a broom to clean up after a church hall function. This is how Joe went beyond merely keeping the faith but into sharing his faith.
Joe’s neighborhood was made up in a large part by widows in their eighties like my mother-in-law, Margaret who lives right next door to Joe. Margaret and the other widows in the neighborhood couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor. Joe would mow people’s yards or plow snow from their driveways if he saw it needed to be done. Joe and his wife, Sue who has worked with special needs children for many years are the kinds of neighbors who recognize that community means “common unity.” Joe was a gentleman filled with humility who wouldn’t think of bragging about all the volunteer things he did because to him they were just part of daily life.
Physically Joe was short, bald and only had one good eye. That did not stop him from clearly seeing needs in our community and standing tall and going about them with no fanfare. Joe’s career was operating heavy equipment and he possessed the right equipment within to help construct a better community right here in Vienna. Mother Theresa said the best way to make a better world was to “just do what’s in front of you” and Joe was the perfect example of doing that.
While John McCain was on the campaign trail he talked of meeting an “Average Joe ” who was worried about the direction of our country. That was Joe the Plumber who by now we all know is a lying blow hard who isn’t even a licensed plumber yet thinks he should be running his bosses plumbing business. While Joe Alexi stood for everything a neighbor should be Joe the Plumber puts the “bore” in neighbor. Lately Joe the Plumber has said that gays are queers he wouldn’t want around his kids. I can tell you that the Elecpencil wouldn’t want his two kids around a do nothing, know nothing, small minded bigot, media whore like Joe the Plumber. I am grateful that my son experienced a few years of playing Joe ball as it’s made a better man of him.
Our country is in trouble because we have too many Joe the Plumbers and not enough Joe the Heavy Equipment Operators. RIP Joe Alexi no “Average Joe”.
For Joe the Heavy Equipment Operator:
The Mighty Clouds of Joy: Keep On Doing It
Why be an average person? All the great achievements of history have been made by strong individuals who refused to consult statistics or to listen to those who could prove convincingly that what they wanted to do, and in fact ultimately did do, was completely impossible. ~ Eric Butterworth