Joe Obeng died yesterday. Joe was someone who I’d call a brother–we’d been through 13 years of intertwined lives. He was with us on every Christmas and Thanksgiving, he babysat my grandkids, he came with me when I broke away to start GoNOMAD, and I was with him as his days turned into nightmares of hospitals and a downward spiral.
Our friend from Ghana, our computer mentor, our go to guy who saved us every time, Joe…ask Joe!
He loved many people, he easily gave love, and he had an endearing ernestness….so ‘how are you doing?’ he would ask. Taking longer to make his way through the world because he usually had another inquiry…he wasn’t ever in a rush. He was the man who we all went to to answer questions about the website, or about our computers, or about a thousand other topics that he seemed to understand that few of us could ever understand.
I have to say that just about everything I learned about how to publish on the web came from Joe. He constantly taught me new things and he was a big part of what made GoNOMAD a success.
I think about the lists of challenges I’d put before him, one by one, he figured the questions out. People would bring their computers to him and he’d fix them, sometimes taking way longer because he didn’t to wipe and re-install the system–he wanted to one by one save their valuable files…that was how he was. He often wouldn’t remember to send someone a bill, or he’d charge very little for doing something that saved someone. His whole life he never was able to get a handle on money…it flowed the other way. He never had a car, he never had much, but he had an innate understanding of how things work that was admirable.
He had a wonderful colonial throwback formality at times. He’d say ‘I”ll meet you this evening.” He was also a scoundrel who succumbed to drink and had a big battle with it. But he won, and quit drinking, and managed to avoid the temptation for years.
All over the Valley there are people who remember Joe Obeng, people who knew him and cared about him . We will remember Joe on April 27 with a potluck memorial where we will share stories about his life and how we knew him. Good luck, Joe, wherever you are now, we will miss you.