Gone: Joseph Auffenberg

Sunday around 11 o’clock Joe Auffenberg walked out of his home and into the frigid February night. He stepped into a crosswalk, was hit by a car and was killed. The driver remains at large. Joe was 50 years old.

But I’m not here today to talk about the tragic and untimely death of Joe Auffenberg. I’m here to talk about his life.

Now I’m no expert on Joe, I only knew him these past two years, but this much I do know:

joeJoe had a big smile, a kind heart and a hearty laugh.

Joe could usually be seen with the daily newspaper under his arm. He was well-read and never shy about offering his opinion on the news of the day.

Joe would often borrow my pen to work the puzzles in the paper. He always looked me up later to return the pen. Not everyone would do that.

Joe loved sports. He loved to talk about the Cardinals, the Rams and the Blues. I would smile and nod and pretend I knew what he was talking about.

Joe loved Target. Partly to look at greeting cards and magazines, but mostly for the Starbucks inside. He would order a coffee of some sort and usually a muffin. He probably wasn’t supposed to eat that muffin, but I just assumed it was sugar-free and let it go.

Joe did not love Barack Obama.

Joe loved bowling. “Who’s going bowling today?” and “Do you have the bowling group?” were the first things Joe would say to me on bowling day. Joe was a good bowler and a fierce competitor — because winning meant a free soda.

When regular bowling wasn’t available, Joe loved to bowl on the Wii video game system. Once he got the controller it could be a challenge to get it back. We eventually just let Joe bowl last and let him go until it was time for lunch or time to go home.

Joe loved to shred paper. Joe was a paper-shredding machine. In fact, the real paper-shredding machine often gave out before Joe.

Joe’s favorite karaoke song (or at least the one he seemed to sing the most) was “Son of a Preacher Man.” I always wondered why he’d pick that song week after week but I never asked. The most poignant moment I remember from karaoke was the day Joe sang “You Lift Me Up” in honor of his recently deceased mother.

Joe’s funeral service will take place Saturday morning. I plan on stopping by Target afterward for a cup of coffee. Maybe a muffin. Sugar free, of course.




7 responses to “Gone: Joseph Auffenberg

  1. Ronnie,

    I don’t think we have met, but I found your blog post about my uncle Joe after googling his name. It has put a huge smile on my face in the middle of what has been a pretty rough week. You beautifully capture the simple yet profound essence of what Joe was. I thank you for that and also for all of the time you spent helping him.

    I have shared this with my siblings and you have made a lot of people smile this morning.

    Greg Auffenberg

  2. I never met Joe, but after reading your tribute, I know he was a good person – gone too soon – who will be missed by his friends.

  3. Very nicely written Ronnie Roy! I always said you should be a writer. Sorry about Joe I would have liked to know him.

  4. Thank you, Ronnie. Now we all know Joe.

  5. Liz Brixey and Rob Smith introduced us 30 years ago this month. I loved your writing then, and I love it still. You have made Joe known to some new friends. Instead of remembering he died tragically, we will remember he lived well and was loved well. You have a rare gift, my dear husband, so share it with the world.

  6. Hi Ronnie Roy…thank you for bringing more tears to my eyes. Tears of joy for have the privilege of having Joe in my life. He was a gift and a teacher for all of us.

  7. Joe was a very special cousin !Thank you for writing this!I used to think we were here to teach Joe ,but I think Joe was here to teach us.He taught many about unconditional love,about doing the little things for each other,such as bd cards.I received my last one 3 days after he left us! He had such a huge heart over flowing with love.Joe made me a better person! Rest in Peace sweet Joe!

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