Something will be missing from the morning commutes, after the death of a 90-year old man who paid it forward during his morning routine, which uplifted Placentia residents just as their days begun.
Twenty people stood at the corner of Alta Vista Street and Rose Drive Wednesday duplicating a morning ritual that had passed away with Joe Samaniego.
The neighborhood fixture stationed himself nearly every morning where the crowd of people stood, waving at passers-by in hopes of putting smiles on their faces and starting their days of with some cheer.
The ritual began when Joe's daughter Cecilia mentioned he should get some exercise by taking a daily walk. By the time the retired electrician approached the corner he was exhausted, so he stopped to regain energy before returning back home. Perched at the corner he started waving to the passing cars--and to his surprise drivers waved back.
Soon, it was more than just waving back; people stopped and started to get to know Joe. Some pulled over to chat with him. On Christmas he received gift baskets, and on Valentines Day, as he wished "Happy Valentines Day," blew kisses and continuously waving, he received valentines.
Even when Joe's walks became too much for him, he got an electric scooter which he rode to the corner, making his trips easier.
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In March. when Joe suffered a stroke, residents sent him more than 300 letters. These came form commuters, strangers, and even elementary school classes. The messages gave him strength to carry on, and he returned to his daily routine once he recovered.
He died at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton on Monday.
Wednesday's gesture was intended to honor and remember Joe, a man who made a difference in the lives of strangers, just because he could put a smile on strangers' faces and make a difference in their days. His scooter was positioned near the curb. Flowers filled his front basket and signs reading "Joe, you will be missed!!!" and "We love you Joe!!!" were on display communicating the loss of a cherished life.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 717 N. Bradford Ave. in Placentia.