My Uncle Joe Hoyt passed away the other day at the age of 88. He was at his home in Chillicothe, Ohio, surrounded by his loving family and Joe's adored pets. His departure leaves a very big whole in a lot of hearts, most certainly including mine.
Uncle Joe was a giant of a man. WWII vet, OSU grad, life-long farmer, dad, granddad, uncle, inspiration, mentor, hard-ass, friend.
Joe rode Indian motorcycles, drove a '32 Ford coupe, played boogie-woogie on the upright like nobody's business. He was a crazy-man when it came to sports, never missed cheering on the home team (Chillicothe Cavaliers) especially when a Hoyt kid was in the game.
Big Joe (because my brother, JNH II, is little Joe), saved my life once. No, he really did. I was out at Glenallan Farm "helping" Joe and the men fill a silo. Somehow I'd ended up inside as chopped corn stalks -- silage -- was being blown into the silo. The stuff came faster than I could climb up and out.
I started to get buried by silage. Really. I can remember to this moment how hard it was to breath, how freaked out I'd become. I've never been in an avalanche, thank God, but this silage experience must be as terrifyingly dangerous.
I screamed at the top of my lungs. Unc Joe grabbed me by the collar and yanked hard: out of the mess I popped. The silage stopped and Joe slid me through one of those tiny doors where kids like me were meant to escape.
Joe was my Dad "Chesty" Hoyt's youngest sibling. An era has ended, and that makes me sad. But his kids Eric, Cash, Betsy, Nelson, Pete, and wife of 55 years, Annie, remind me that Uncle Joe lived a full, rich life.
Joe Hoyt left behind a legacy of respect for others, hard work, love, joy and plain old mischievous fun. How can we NOT be happy about that.