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About Joel


Joel was a dedicated long-distance, big-rig trucker at the time of his death in 2019, but his passion from a very young age was being a chef. He graduated magna cum laude from Johnson and Wales Culinary School. Joel was a talented drummer in several bands. He became the youngest Eagle scout in his troop at the age of 14. He loved animals, had a wide variety of pets, and volunteered regularly in a pet store before he was old enough to be employed. Joel also loved people and was a best friend to many. He was very sensitive and empathetic, more concerned about others than himself, taking on the suffering of others as his own. Joel was the father of a much beloved now 8 year old son. Joel loved his family and wanted us all to have adventures together. 

Joel demonstrated a persistence and hope that edified Clay, entering the hard and lonely struggle again and again upon relapse, always expressing a thankfulness and humility paired with his strength and courage. He had these traits beyond anything his father has exhibited. He expressed his hope and optimism once in a note saying, “Thank you for the life I do not know yet”. Joel loved tattoos and had many applied that he had designed. His dad now has his first honoring his son.

Joel was given an anti-anxiety medication prescription his first year in college which progressed gradually into his substance use addiction, a battle he lived with for 11 years until a relapse with opioids after 2 years sober took his life  April 18, 2019. Joel desperately wanted to become and stay free from his substance addiction and help others with similar struggles. He merely wanted what so many have gifted to them, a life free of the craving for substances, to feel normal. 

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