We never expect anyone close to us to leave. As we watch them grow and grow with them, we forge a stronger bond and cultivate a personal longing to see them, their enthusiasm, and to hear their voice. We laugh at their jokes, endure their struggles with them, but we never expect them to be gone.
It is with heavy hearts that we recognize the passing of Joe Monroe in July 2015.
“Joe loved to interact with staff both at Atlantic Road and at the workshop. Joe was a pleasure to talk with and would talk with someone as long as they wanted to. He loved to put a smile on people’s faces. All of Joe’s staff had been able to see him grow and become as independent as he possibly could be. At the workshop, we used Joe as an example of working hard as you age. Joe served as an example for others to work hard no matter your age.”
- Erica Blum, Sr. Vocational Counselor
Joe’s history lies somewhat in shadow. He was dropped off at Newark Developmental Center as a baby in 1935. He had no name and no identity. Years later, in August of 1979, he moved to Monroe Developmental Center where he lived for a short time. Ultimately, he became Joe Monroe.
“Joe didn’t let that affect his life. He took life as it came—had friends—looked at the positives in life. We will miss him terribly.”
- Sankar Sewnauth, CDS Monarch President/CEO
A man who lived to see his early eighties, Joe came to CDS Monarch in 1979, not too long after the organization opened. He initially lived at the Lehigh Station Road home, and later moved to French Road, then Austin and most recently lived at Atlantic Road. He loved television—namely Walker Texas Ranger—spent time worshipping at his local church and worked at the Perinton workshop in December of 2001 before coming to the Hard Road workshop in May of 2008.
“Joe was a very independent individual who took pride in his independence. He loved working. He actually refused to retire. He was a very upbeat individual with a very comical personality.”
- Brandon Wilson, Atlantic Road Residence Manager
It was no secret that Joe loved to travel. He visited Boston, California and Las Vegas. But perhaps most notably—and something he loved to talk about—was his trip to Rome to see the Pope. Joe spent 10 days in Rome. With a crowd that can have as many as 10,000 people, Joe got a seat in the third row of the Papal audience meeting. Of those 10,000 people, Joe was one of 100 who were brought to the side to wait to be blessed by the Pope, who came within 10 feet of Joe. Not everyone gets to achieve his or her dreams, but Joe was a genuine exception.
“During our visit to Rome, we did basically all the site seeing things you can do: Trevi fountain; all the museums; the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica; the Roman Coliseum. We visited all of the town squares, went shopping, and, of course, ate out every night, which Joe enjoyed very much. Joe really enjoyed the trip.”
- Bob Carello, Director of Person Centered Services
At his funeral service, the pastor told a story about how Joe would come to church sometimes to worship with them. The pastor would ask what they’d like to pray about, and Joe’s hand would always bolt straight up. He had a birthday party coming up—still two weeks away—and he was excited to share the news. Sometimes, the pastor said, Joe’s words would come before his hand was even raised. Joe brought a smile to the faces of those around him. Sometimes it’s hard to come by somebody with so much life, personality and love as Joe Monroe; but, when you do, it’s especially hard to say goodbye.
“I can tell you that Joe was loved by many people. He was always happy and very motivated to work.”
- Kristin Carges, Manager of Behavior Services
Joe didn’t let his past define him. Even though never knew his parents, the people around him quickly became his family. His work ethic was something to be revered—only calling off when he was sick—and he kept working until he fell too ill to continue. Joe Monroe was a rare enigma who we’ve all come to admire.
“Joe was a very hardworking individual who always put a smile on everyone's face. He always told me he did not want to "katire" (retire) every time I saw him, as he loved his job so much! He usually stayed to himself but had the biggest heart, caring about those he was close to.”
- Amanda Marcigliano, FSS Service Coordinator
We will always remember Joe Monroe: his smile, his laugh, his work ethic and much more. Joe was a part of the CDS Monarch family—a person who touched so many lives, and we will never forget him.
“He made me appreciate life and marvel at how someone could go through what he did and still smile and have such a pleasant heart and spirit. He will be greatly missed.”
- Julie Miller, Medicaid Service Coordinator