Earlier this month, we said goodbye to my cousin Joseph Christopher Klatte. Joe wasn’t just a great cousin, he was a great man. As I listened to his immediate family, lifelong friends, and close co-workers share stories about this man who had greatly impacted their lives during the testimony portion of his funeral, I kept hearing one phrase over and over again in my spirit—Joe was an everyday hero.
One of Joe’s nephews shared that Joe was a perfect example of the American Dream. A 1971 graduate of Troy (Ohio) High School, Joe started working as a clean up boy for G & R Sales when he was just a sophomore. Then in 1981—just 12 years after he served as clean up boy—Joe purchased G & R, which is now Independent Auto Sales. The business continues to bless the Troy, Ohio, community and his family, as his two sons have worked with their Dad for years and will continue running the business and honoring Joe’s legacy.
His faith in God, his kind heart, and his love for people caused folks to drive from surrounding counties and states just to buy a car from Joe.
Joe proved that being a hard worker and a risk taker were key components to seeing that American Dream come true, but that’s not the only two attributes that fueled Joe’s success. His faith in God, his kind heart, and his love for people caused folks to drive from surrounding counties and states just to buy a car from Joe. In fact, we bought one of our first real family vehicles from Joe. We needed a bigger vehicle for our growing family, but we weren’t sure what we could afford. My dad, Walter Medlock (Joe’s Uncle) said, “Go see Joe. He’ll take care of you.” So we did, and he did. We drove from Indiana to Ohio to see what Joe could do for us, and we drove home in a beautiful Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer. I’m pretty sure Joe lost money on that deal, but it sure meant the world to us.
Joe always made you feel like you were the most important person in the room.
Joe always made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. He was never too busy to take your call, take you out to eat, or chat about football, faith, or family. Story after story confirmed those facts. He was the guy who left money under the doormat of a family friend just because he knew she could use it. He was the guy who didn’t walk past a homeless man but instead took him out to eat and gave him money for lodging. He was the guy who bought championship rings for the local high school bowling team just because he thought they deserved to be honored but got mad when his anonymous act of generosity made the local newspaper.
Joe didn’t want any recognition. In fact, he wouldn’t hardly let you brag on him. He’d joke it off, and there’s no one who could tease and joke better than Joe—truly one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Pam, his wife of 45 years, said they laughed their way through life. Having been around them many times throughout my life, I can verify that…they were always loving and laughing.
It’s been a week or so since the service celebrating Joe’s life, and I continue to think about that Everyday Hero I had the privilege of calling my cousin. I’ll miss him, as will everyone who knew Joe, but I am happy I’ll see him again someday in heaven. Until then, I am going to try to follow his example: love more, laugh more, and be that everyday hero in other people’s lives. I challenge you to do the same.Love more, laugh more, and strive to be an everyday hero. #INwritergirl #everydayhero Click To Tweet