These words were written by Joe’s son: I apologize to you in advance for not delivering these words myself

, but I know that while I can commit them to the page, I would not be able to recite them to you today. Many years ago, I read a work of fantasy fiction that imagined a new ministry in the future called the Speaker for the Dead, a person who could speak to the totality of the departed person’s life, not simply to paint over their lives with a glossy gilded varnish. In that spirit, I offer these poor words. Joe Guerrero was a kind man. Joe Guerrero’s glare was infamous (the non-verbal “stoneface” that the Guerreros share as a family.) Joe Guerrero was a gentle loving man, whose family nickname was “Old Crankshaft.” Joe got into his share of fights as a young person. Last night we were treated to a story from a sweet neighbor to the Guerrero clan on Delgado Street, who said that Joe would come out and tease her and her sisters when they were hanging their laundry out to dry. And they would stop when it came time to hang their underwear out so that they would not have to hear his teases (or share a peek at their underwear.) He was a devoted husband for 51 years and a devoted father to me, even when my mother and I sometimes tested the bounds of lovability. Joe Guerrero enjoyed and loved life, and he would no doubt be glaring sternly at us, if we tried to paint him as a saintly man. Some might see contradictions in his life: he often spoke fondly and proudly of his time as an altar boy and serving the mass, but in his adulthood loved to drink beer and play dominoes (and we will not comment on whether money ever exchanged hands in those games of “moon”.) He was devoted to his family and considered his family the greatest good that he could apply himself to. As a young man, when he started working, he dutifully contributed to the family’s finances (even though he often disappeared on Friday night only to reappear on Monday morning in time to pick up his lunch and head off to work.) My father was a keen observer, and saw humor in the absurdities of life. He spun many tales of his exploits as a civil servant, the endless cast of characters, and the humorous foibles that defined his many years at Kelly AFB, of staffers caught sneaking out of work, and of entrepreneurial taco venders who kept their tacos warm on the engine blocks of aircraft tugs as they made their way around the base. He treated his employees with humor and respect, and his hangar parties with the extra cash from the coffee club were famous. Joe Guerrero was in all the best ways, a rascal. A tale of his youth that is legendary within our family is when he and his rascal counterpart cousin Robert were teasing a hornets nest, after being forbidden by my grandmother to be engaging in such shenanigans. Undeterred they both kept teasing the hornets and predictably got a tremendous stinging. In their youthful attempt to sooth their stings, they decided that they would attempt some cooling mud as therapy. Apparently, the cooling mud was not much help for the second stings of the day: gladly supplied by my grandmother with a switch, when she found the muddy hornet stung pair. He loved to laugh and had a sly and sometimes stinging sense of humor. He was without artifice: if you asked, he told you what he thought, whether you were ready for it or not. He sometimes claimed to be

less intelligent than others, since he had stopped formal education at high school, but woe be it to those who underestimated his intellect. I picked up my own newspaper habit at his knee, watching his own religious habit of reading the paper. He stayed aware of life and always had a thirst for knowledge. In his later years, we shared an academic interest in the origins and meanings of the Bible. For the supposedly untrained, he was skilled at the manly art of debate and argumentation, and on the few times I managed to back him into a corner in an argument, he would get a sly smile and twinkle in his eyes and say that I was just trying to use “rhetoric” to best him. I have sometimes heard it said that the Lord does not give you what you want, but will bless you with what you need, and I often believed that the Lord sent my father something other than what he expected in me. My father was a sportsman as a young man and a life-long sports fan. I never caught either of those bugs, enjoying the comfort of books and the arts. But even for his sometimes bewilderment at what he had been sent, he doted on me and always seemed amazed at the strange creature the Lord blessed him with, and the various adventures and feats that I have performed with his loving support. Joe’s devotion and love of family was legendary, and while he often told me that this applied only to his blood family, he was quick to generosity with the many “elect” that he found over the course of his life. People he kept in his inner circle, who had been made blood in their friendship with him. I could never hope to remember them all, but the more famous (or infamous) would include his beloved friends: Alfonso, Segundo, and the band of rascals that shared their hidden “casino” mancave at Alfonso’s house. Such a list of those held in his heart would also include names like Richard, Abby, Sam, Sandy, and his dear friend Jesse who has been his faithful friend and companion since childhood. His love transcended blood, though he would seldom admit it. For the countless others that I will never remember on this day, know that these are only my poor recollections of a cast too large to recount. For myself, we had the special bond of a father and only son, and shared life’s challenges that will be left unsaid. For fifty years I knew he had my back, and that was fifty years to few. If anyone deserves credit (or blame) for the man I have become, it would be he. He taught me dignity, devotion, reason, kindness, and the joy (and humor) of life embraced and well lived. It would take me a lifetime to explain to you fair listeners the love I had for my father, but I will bore you no further. I will end with these simple words: Dad, I love you more than words can tell. Godspeed to you. Amen.

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