Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Central Florida, and Joe Walden wanted to make sure the tree limb hanging over the house was cut down before the storm came. It would be the last act of kindness for the Ocoee resident, who died Sept. 2 doing what was second nature to him — taking care of his loved ones.
Joe, 56, was trimming the limb when he fell from a ladder and was pronounced dead after emergency personnel attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate him on the ambulance ride to the hospital.
Now his daughter is hoping members of the community will open their hearts and continue taking care of his family in his absence.
Joe’s daughter, Victoria, started a GoFundMe account to help her mother, Vicki, through a financially rough time.
“He worked hard to support my mother, sister, brother, grandkids and even myself at times,” Victoria wrote on the crowdfunding page. “He wanted us all to have the best of everything. He was a hard worker and always willing to lend a helping hand. He never knew a stranger and would help anyone that needed help.
“He loved my mother with a passion that most only wish they could find in their lifetime,” she wrote. “He was an exceptional man and friend and the best dad a girl could ask for.”
Joe Walden was the sole provider for his family, sometimes working two jobs.
“He wanted our mom to stay home and take care of us,” Victoria said. “He truly believed in that.”
Joe and Vicki have one son and two daughters, one of whom is 15 and still lives at home. Their house always has been a gathering place for the three Walden children and five grandchildren. After Victoria’s husband died six years ago, both of her parents willingly assumed the responsibility of helping her with transportation and after-school care.
“He was a big support system, as well,” Victoria said of her father. “He was very hands-on with (my) kids, and even my brother’s kids. He would take them fishing all the time or take them to get slushies.”
People knew they could count on Joe if they were in need, whether it was help with moving, jumping a dead car battery or borrowing money.
“My dad was a very … hard worker,” Victoria said. “He was genuine. … He was one of a kind.”
And he had a kind heart. He was a huge animal lover, his daughter said, and when their rescue dog, Chica, got sick, Joe was ready to spend his entire paycheck on her surgery.
“He was always there, no matter what,” Victoria said. “I think the thing that hurts the most (is) I will never be able to see him, talk to him or make more memories with him.”