Joe had been so ill that most of us hadn't expected him to still be with us when met this past Labor Day weekend on the hill overlooking Orlando, but he was there! He was pretty sick, but he'd just bought a dobro and had set about exploring and learning to play the old songs with Marilyn (Cole) Posey and her cousin, Charley Cole.
Joe was born and grew up in the Detroit area. He was in the Lamphere High School Band and studied landscape design in college. He was bright, creative and had an independent streak that could drive you nuts.
Joe served in special services in Viet Nam. He didn't talk much about his time there, and he carefully edited what he did say. Like so many other young men, when Joe came back he was never the same. He was still bright, caring, independent and sometimes ornery, though. Joe was a truck driver, big rigs, after he came back.
Joe's mom was one of the many Orlando folks that leave the hills to get work and move back as soon as possible. His mom, Juanita (Stutler) Burgett, bought Charley Knight's old store from W.D. Brown, just down from the former Dolan Hotel where her parents Edith (Skinner) & Oras Stutler had been living since the early 1950s. Joe's brother John and sister Sandy settled in the hills, too. Sandy married Roger Conrad and they raised their 3 kids on Three Lick. John, also in the service (Desert Storm & Iraq), and his wife Tammy and 5 kids live near Weston. Joe's 3 kids, Scott Redden, Jonell Barr and Connie Osentoski, all live in southeast Michigan.
Top left is a photo of Joe with his K-9 partner in 'Nam. To the right is Joe and me in our grandparents' parlor on Christmas Eve with the world's scariest Santa. Lower left is Joe's folks, Juanita (Stutler) and Lee Burgett, both of whom served in WWII. To the right is Joe's home, formerly Charley Knight's, then W.D. Brown's, then Juanita & Lee Burgett's general store. Bottom is an assortment of cousins on Labor Day weekend, 2005. Joe is standing, far right , with the white beard. His brother John is standing beside him in a green shirt and his sister Sandy is sitting, on the right, with light colored hair.
The Coles, Marilyn and Charley, sang at Joe's funeral. Marilyn said, "At the funeral, I explained to everyone that the last song Joe sang with us was Will The Circle Be Unbroken... 1 And it was the only gospel song he knew all the words to. So he loved that song very much. So, I told everyone that from now on when we sing for occasions etc. I will tell the story of Joe and let them know that to them the familiar name is Circle Be Unbroken, but it is " Joe's Song" to us."
In memory of a soldier, a father, a thinker & dreamer, a son of Orlando,
. . . . Will the circle be unbroken . . . .
. . . . By and by, by and by . . . .
. . . . There's a better home awaitin' . . . .
. . . . In the sky Lord, in the sky . . . .
1. Will the Circle... is a traditional folksong that the Carter family brought with them out of the Virginia hills in the 1930s.