Joe was never one to brag. Not once in my life did I witness Joe playing any card to project a sense of superiority over someone else. He was extremely grounded and determined to make his way in the world on his own merits.
- Andrew Feindel
I've known Joseph since Grade 7 when we started at Upper Canada College. Upon first meeting him, I was most struck by his confidence. With Joe, everything was imbued with the spirit of competition. I remember fondly the many hours we idled away debating who could whistle the loudest, and at the highest and lowest pitch. We even had a competition on who could see the farthest.
Recess breaks were usually spent sneaking off to a local video game shop. Joe always wanted to play the ping-pong machines. His love for ping-pong was only exceeded by his passion for the mini hockey sticks in our school locker room. He was particularly fond of the Boston/Pittsburgh sticks, all of the yellow-coloured teams, which he would quite literally play almost every recess. Lunch breaks were equally memorable and typically involved a pilgrimage to Burger Shack, followed by a visit next door to grab a Sparkling donut, Joe’s favourite.
Joe did everything with style and flair. He was the type of athlete who would run to catch an easy fly ball, and then slide, roll and execute an elaborate flip just for the sake of showmanship. Of course, after all of that, Joe would conclude with a shrug, as if to say, no big deal, just an everyday catch. It was very entertaining.
On the soccer field, Joe outshone almost everyone else and excelled as the varsity soccer goalie. He even developed a friendship with Rob Lloyd, the Welsh soccer coach, who would always check up on him from time to time when he was in town. You were always lucky to have Joe on your team, whatever the sport. Together, we won the Grade 8 doubles tennis tournament—quite the achievement as I was an awful player. Joe’s “playbook,” as he later explained to me with his characteristic frankness, was for me to get out of the way and “just let him hit it.” We would also play two-on-two basketball. As with tennis, the game plan was always, “Andrew, just pass me the ball.”
Our friendship continued into university. I remember a particularly memorable phone call from Joe right after he received his acceptance to Western. The first thing he said to me on the phone: “Guess what? I have great news for you. You are going to have the coolest roommate next year.”
Most of all, Joe always wanted people around him to succeed. It was Joe’s idea to hold my first financial planning seminar, titled “Wealth and Wine,” at his parent's winery in 2004. I garnered my very first client from that event—the first step in starting my career. Just after the publication of my book Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started, he was the first to call me and immediately said, “Andrew, if you remember Mr. Webb’s class, you know the word ‘got’ is poor English. Hopefully, that error is only on page 163 of the book and not in the title.”
Jokes aside, Joe was always a stalwart supporter of my professional success, even after I had begun to establish myself in the field. Just last year, he called me after reading my piece in The Globe and Mail. Always one with a plan, Joe intended to buy a copy and tell the first person he met at the coffee shop that day to read it and pass it on.
I owe Joe so much. He went from the guy who had my back in school to the man who supported me as I built my career and started my family. Not long before Joe went into the hospital for the last time, we shared a long, emotional conversation, just the two of us, that stretched into the early morning. It was the most open conversation we had in our 25-year friendship.
I'm so thankful I had the chance to let him know exactly what he's meant to me all these years.