Joe L. Gomes
January 6, 1940 – October 19, 2016
A Mass of the Resurrection and services will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 26th at Sacred Heart Church. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery. Donations are preferred to the American Heart Association or American Cancer Society c/o the mortuary. Visit www.grunnagle.com for condolences
Whaddya gonna do, was an often heard response from Joe when addressing one of life’s unavoidable events. However, do not mistake the statement as fatalism. Instead, it more accurately reflected the resilience he demonstrated throughout his life. Joe left this world on October 19, 2016. While he will be dearly missed, his infectious spirit, straight-shooting talk, and humor will live on with all those who knew him.
Jos Leonardo Gomes began his life on January 6, 1940 on the Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores. Over 1,000 miles away from the nearest continent, Faial provided a childhood Joe fondly reflected upon. However, Joe had had little time for reflection as he had much to accomplish. His aspirations would eventually take Joe nearly 5,000 miles away from home. While they were sad to see him go, his parents, Manuel and Filomena, and his brother, Manuel, encouraged Joe to pursue his dreams. Family welcomed him when he arrived in the New World. His uncle, Frank, took him under his wing and helped guide Joe through this new chapter of his life. Joe embraced the challenges of America as only an immigrant could. Though America was an unfamiliar landscape, the possibilities were seemingly endless to Joe. It was in California that Joe would reconnect with the love of his life, Maria Lucia. The two would work long hours in pursuit of their American dream. A small plot of pears became the gateway to a lifelong trade as a farmer. Pears became apricots. Early mornings and late nights would be filled with the world of agriculture. Hailstorms, smudge pots, droughts, sulfur house fires, and shifting markets would provide challenges that only sweetened the reward of another growing season. He shepherded his crops through over forty of those seasons.
While he embraced his new world, he held his former close and celebrated it throughout his life. The number of people who lived in his home was small, but his family was large. He would spend days and nights with others from his homeland and together celebrated their heritage. Pursuing the American dream also meant enjoying time not at work. Joe often began his day with the common morning ritual of a cup of coffee. However, the ritual was more than simply enjoying a drink. Instead, it was a tour of local morning spots that meant spending time with others and offered an insight into the diverse group of friends Joe kept. He found unending joy in the land and waters that surrounded Hollister. Whether it be roaming the rolling country hills, seeking salmon in the Pacific, or simply enjoying the Wests beauty, he loved every moment of life and always surrounded himself with family and friends. And as all from the Old World must do, he made wine. In his later years, wine making became a surrogate for his apricot days. But like so many things in Joe’s life, the end result was not the goal. It was the moments in between the beginning and end that mattered. Whether it be an afternoon tasting with friends or the annual harvest that lasted into the evenings late hours, friends and family were always at the center. Joe has not left us, but is waiting in a better place and having a toast with those who made the journey before him. He lives on through all those that passed through his life, whether it be a brief encounter or a lifelong friendship. His wife shared 50 years living with and loving Joe. His son Allan shares not only Joe’s genetics, but also his steadfast stubbornness. Allan’s wife, Shannon, embraced the Portuguese culture and brought Joe two little ones. If you miss Joe’s smile, just look into the eyes of his grandchildren, Quinn Tiago and Fiona Lucia. His spirit will certainly be carried on by them for many years to come.