On Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, Joe V. “Jose Valentino” Gonzales, 79, of Winslow, passed away peacefully at Payson Care Center. A funeral Mass and burial will be held on a later date.
Joe was born at McCauley-McCamant Pine Springs Ranch near Winslow in 1938. He began his careers shining shoes and selling newspapers as a child during World War II.
After graduating from Winslow High School in 1957, he worked at the Whiting Bros. gas station in Holbrook and began his lifelong career with ATS&F Railways. As a telegraph operator and ticket agent, Joe moved with Billa and their small children to various remote train station locales throughout Arizona and New Mexico, including Thoreau, Parker, Wickenburg, Seligman and Ash Fork. In 1966, he traveled to Topeka, Kan., where he trained to be a locomotive engineer.
He retired from BNSF Railways in 2002 after many runs on the Winslow-Gallup-Belen Southwest line. One of the highlights of his career was running the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train for track segment as it passed through Winslow on one of its world tours.
His passions included re-telling stories from his youth, especially those of his ranching and sheep herding days, Babe Ruth baseball, roller skating, leather crafting, fishing and rebuilding bicycles for anyone who needed one.
He will be fondly remembered for his 1956 Ford F100 pickup, feeding everyone who happened to stop by “Uncle Joe and Aunt Billa’s” open door café, his New Mexico red chile and his Morse code demonstrations.
He will be dearly missed, mostly for his selflessness and sense of humor.
The help we have received over the years by his loving nephews, nieces, in-laws, neighbors, St. Joseph and Madre de Dios Parishes and the community of Winslow is a testament to his kindness.
Beloved husband of 60 years to Amelia “Billa” Rubi Gonzales; father of Mary Margaret Gonzales, Christopher Gonzales, Inez Casillas, Lisa Soto and Freddy Arrevelos; brother to Theresa Gonzales Salazar and Ramona Martinez.
He was preceded in death by his parents Tomas and Eufemia Lobato Gonzales; daughter, Diana; sons, Joey and Walter; brothers, Thomas, Louis and Eddie; sisters, Mercy, Lilly and Dolores; and his best pet friend “Harley”.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Madonna House, located at 213 Jefferson St. in Winslow, Ariz. 86047, or to St. Jude.org.