Joseph T. Walsh, Jr., born on July 13, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, passed away on January 31, 2023. He’d want you to know, first and foremost, how much he adored his wife, Katherine, whom he lost in 2011, and how proud he was of his children and grandchildren.
Joe wasn’t one to talk about himself. And he wouldn’t want too much fuss about his life here, either. But he leaves behind a family who loved him dearly. They would want you to know that he was a man of simple pleasures. He loved his ginger ale and Diet Dr. Pepper, and going out to eat at Pat’s Pizza in Orono. He loved animals, sometimes more than people; his collies—Bobbie, Whitney, and Alice—were the lucky recipients of his whole-hearted affection. He enjoyed long walks with his dogs, with his grandchildren, or even by himself. Those walks provided a special kind of peace, in which Joe could really pay attention to the world, listening to the soothing sounds of nature or getting lost in his own thoughts. Joe also enjoyed skiing (starting in the early 1970s at Ski Horse in Newburgh and later Squaw Mountain), fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon on the Miramichi River, and hunting in the Maine woods. He was a hard worker and a sharp lawyer who fought hard for his clients. He was committed to his family and to God.
While a traditional obituary might include more details about his remarkable life, this one will be a chance to address Joe’s eight grandchildren in his own words.
Dear Hayley, Bobby, Nicholas, Patrick, Caroline, Olivia, Alex and Marie,
There are lessons I learned throughout my life that perhaps I should tell you now. But when I look at each of you, I see those lessons already being applied to your exciting and developing lives, in the wonderful people you’ve already become. Each of you is a reflection of what I prayed for. You are the reflections of what your grandmother, Nanie, prayed for—and what our children, your parents, prayed for. It is wonderful when prayers are answered in such a strong way!
Your grandmother was the smartest, kindest person I’ve ever known. And I see so much of her in each of you. I am grateful to see the love of my life shine through in the family we made together.
So instead of telling you the lessons of my life, I’d like to reflect on what each of you means to me.
Caroline, you see how beautiful the world can be, but you focus on how to make it better. I admire your passion and commitment to a more just and equal society. Hearing you talk about politics and women’s rights inspired me to think more deeply about what isn’t working and what can be done to fix it. These are big problems you’re tackling, Caroline, and you are strong and smart enough to make a difference, and your top performance at Wellesley prove it!
Olivia, your creativity and sense of humor bring great joy to those in your presence. You can make anyone smile! But even greater than your humor is your sense of fairness. If someone is being treated poorly, you’re the one who stands up and demands better. You hold people to the highest standards of kindness and generosity, and the world is a better place because of you. Your love of art and expression has always been inspiring to me.
Nicholas, it was always a privilege to watch you excel in sports and in school. You are so naturally athletic and smart; whether it’s math, computers or a hockey play, things just make sense to you. You look at problems, and you see solutions. And just because these things come easy to you, doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. I was always so proud, watching you give your all to hockey, baseball, and fly fishing. Your strong convictions will serve you well in life.
Patrick, you are smart with such a kind heart, and I am grateful for the ways in which you’ve shown up for me, and for the rest of your family. Thank you for all of the quality time, including allowing me to be your bunk mate on Stetson Street during my visits. I can’t tell you how proud I am of your commitment to ROTC and the Navy, and your related time at USC. Our country is lucky to have you and I was so impressed when you were saluted at the Bangor Air Force base. Patrick, I salute you now. I was always astonished by your business savvy, too. Remember those Red Sox bobble head dolls at Fenway and your cool Vespa? Buying all of those bobble heads was a very clever move, and reselling them even better! You are also a marathoner - amazing!
Hayley, witnessing your passion for horses was such a joy for me. Watching you ride made me feel like we shared part of the same heart—one that lit up in the presence of these beautiful, powerful animals. We are also passionate dog lovers – I loved playing with your dogs over the years, including Blake (rascal with great energy)! I was so impressed by your entrepreneurial spirit, too. I wish I could be there when you graduate from Johns Hopkins University. I know you are going to do so many great things.
Bobby, you’re an incredibly gifted athlete, and I’m so proud of how hard you’ve worked to earn excellent grades at Boston University. You always seem to be surrounded by friends—which makes me so happy. I see why so many people want to spend time with you. I remember enjoying watching you play football at an All State level at Cheverus and cast a long fly line on the Miramichi - magical moments for me. We also share a deep love and passion for dogs and enjoyed our play time with them. You are thoughtful and inquisitive, and you make everyone feel listened to. Thank you for all the talks.
Alex, you’re always involved in so many things, and I loved your life updates and how excitedly you spoke of things like travel, skiing, tennis and Luke’s latest shenanigans. You have already seen so much of the world, and I loved seeing it through your curious, adventurous eyes. I’m so proud of how hard you are working in medical school. I also loved the stories about BC and your friends there - wonderful! You give every challenge your all, and I know you’re going to be successful and help many people along the way.
And last but never least: Marie, my beautiful and gifted youngest granddaughter. Watching you grow up has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Your commitment and talent for swimming, the joy on your face when you ski and tube in the river, your compassion for people and dogs—have all been so special to witness. You always find a reason to smile, and to make other people smile, too. I am so grateful for every long walk, every car ride, Sunday Zoom call, every conversation we had together. Your inner confidence is also amazing and inspiring to me.
I cherish the times we spent side by side in the Summer casting for salmon on the Miramichi. Sometimes we caught them, sometimes we didn’t but we always had fun and laughed a lot. It brought me immense joy to watch you develop with each passing Summer - thank you.
In my absence, I hope you all know I loved you more than I could ever tell you. Keep me in your hearts as you continue to move bravely, kindly, and curiously through the world. And remember me walking with my beautiful collies in a quiet, peaceful Maine forest filled with tall pine trees. May our times together remain evergreen in your memories. When you miss me, I hope you’ll take a walk in a place that feels peaceful to you, and know I’m there, too.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated 10 AM Saturday, February 4, 2023, at 10:00 St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ohio St., Bangor. Donations may be made to the Salvation Army in Bangor, where Joe served as a Board member. Arrangements by Kiley & Foley Funeral Service, Bangor and Brewer. Messages and memories may be shared with his family at kileyandfoley.com.