Joseph Thomas Joaquin Canales Memorial Fund
$50 raised
1% of $10k goal
1 contributor
4 Years running

We need to raise money to get my dad, Joseph T. Canales back to Los Angeles California for his burial. He also said that he wanted to be remembered by his full name which he wanted on his grave stone. This fund is to raise money to transfer Joseph back to California to carry out his wish to be buried with or as near his parents and daughters as possible. The VA will provide the tombstone and taps but transport of the body and burial/cremation expenses must be covered by the family. We also need to raise money to get family out to California so they can say their last goodbyes.

This previous month, while he was still alive, he told me that he wanted to be buried in Los Angeles with his parents (Ida Devine and Ray Elliot) and his daughters (Anna Jo and Christina).

His father father was Joseph Canales Sr and had emigrated from Spain to Vermont. Ida Devine's family had immigrated to Vermont from Ireland a little earlier. They met in Vermont, married and moved to Barre Vermont. Ida's father was a farmer in Vermont and Joseph Sr was a mason. Joseph Sr died while Joseph Jr was still a child from consumption or tuberculosis. While they lived in Barre, Ida and Joseph had one son, Joseph Thomas Joaquin Canales.

Joseph Thomas Canales was born in Barre Vermont on June 17 1925, the middle of the roaring 20's. He grew up during the greatest economic disaster in world history. He learned how to survive in bad economic times while at an early age because he grew up in the worst economy Americans have faced. They had very little at some point in the 30's Ida's father lost his farm to the bank and they moved to Los Angeles California where the now widowed Ida Devine met and married Ray Elliot. In Los Angeles Joseph attended Garfield High School.

At the age of 17, Joseph's mother would not sign the form authorizing his entry into the armed forces so he lied about his age to get in the Navy at the height of World War II to defend the nation he loved. During the war, Joseph Thomas Joaquin Canales served in the United States Navy at the rank of Seaman 1st class. He served at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, the battle for the Philipines, the island of Tinian in the Marianas and the Hebrides Islands.

He was stationed as a plane mechanic the night the Enola Gay made a stop on the island on its way to dropping the world's first nuclear weapon. He said they had the plane fenced up and camaflaged so no one could see it. The plane was guarded by heavy security forces that kept everyone, including US personnel away.

During his service in the Phillipines, Joseph took many photos which became part of the family photo album. The album was lost due to poor management of the family legacy. It included photos of the pPhillipines and Filipinos at the time and an autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe. He told a story about being in the trenches and hearing movement up a head and not knowing who it was. They did not have our communications technology back then and it was very dark. Because they did not know who it was and you could not take chances they had to open fire on the noise. They never found out if was enemy forces or friendly and my dad has said he lived the rest of his life with the fear that he might have fired on friendly forces in the Phillipines. Back then it was kill or be killed. You could not afford to reach out and ask questions, it was shoot first and ask later if you wanted to stay alive.

He was part of the occupational forces at Guadalcanal toward the end of the war and said they had to do a lot of ducking because of Japanese snipers who refused, for more than a year,  to believe the war was over.

After he was discharged in 1946, in Los Angeles California, he got his first job driving some of the first 18 wheelers in America. He met his wife, Roberta Maxine Canales while in Los Angeles. They married and had their first child in the early 50's. In those days they did not have the automation and division of labor they do today. The driver was also the mechanic and also had to load and unload his own cargo by himself. He started local and moved onto cross country driving which he did for the rest of his career. He worked for many companies and retired from Overnite Transportation and the trucking industry in 2003. He hauled everything from produce to televisions to oil and gas to whereever it was needed.

Joseph and Roberta had 7 children together. Ana Jo died in late 60's from crib death and Christina died at the age of 13 when she snuck out of the house, grabbed her parents stationwagon to go meet some 25 year guy. Her car struck a telephone pole on Telegraph and Leffingwell in Whittier Ca where the family for a while. All of Joe's biological children were born in Whittier and attended California High School and Pioneer High School. His wife held jobs as a secretary at several businesses and at St. Mary's in Pico Rivera.

After the deaths of their daughters, Roberta began drinking heavily and withdrawing from society except for outings to the local bars where she met another man and had two children with him in the early 70's. In 1973 she had a son who she named after herself and in 1975 she had another son who she named after her deceased daughter Christina.

Joseph walked in on them while they were in the act and felt a great deal of anger and betrayal. Joe wanted to kill the other guy but his wife got between them. Despite this Joe stayed with his wife until her death in 1995 from lung cancer and cirosis of the liver from alcohol consumption. They put his name on the two children she concieved from her affair and Joe raised them as if they were his biological children. He stayed with his wife even after she insisted on keeping the other man around simply because they were the children's biological father. While he supported the family by driving around the country, his wife and her friend wasted his money at the bar forcing the children to grow up in motels.

Despite this adversity Joseph was keen on making sure the two young boys, Robert and Chris were provided for. One time, during the 80's when Roberta and her friend Art Rock were spending all of Christmas Eve at the local bars in Pico Rivera, Joe came home and saw there was no Christmas tree or food in the motel room they were renting. This was at what used to be called the Roadway in Pico Rivera across the street from K Mart on Rosemead. He immediately went across the street to K Mart which was still open and bought a tree. He then went back and bought presents and food for the two boys.

For the most part Joe, his wife, and Art got along ok when there was no drinking involved and would play cards often when Joe was home.

Joseph's and his wife finally bought a house in 1994 but his wife died a year later in 1995. His daughter, Sharon Canales, came out to help him take care of his finances. During this period he continued to drive across the country and became one of America's oldest truck drivers and the oldest at his company, Overnight. He also showed compassion by helping those who needed help despite not having very much. His job gave him a lower middle class income. He also joined the Whittier Senior Citizens Center where he play pool when he was home from work.

In 2003 Joseph Canales retired from the trucking industry for good. He got income from his Teamster's membership which he had been a member of since his first job in '46 until the mid eighties when he retired from the Teamsters. He also had a retirement benefit from Overnight Transportation and social security income. He was 83 years old and approaching 84 when he retired from truck driving.

Two of his sons, Tom and Robert served in the US Army while the two oldest daughters had already moved to Oklahoma and Kansas. A third daughter lives in Idaha while Sharon moved to Texas in 2003.

He lost his house in the middle of 2007 during the recent crash of the housing market. The government refused to provide him with any relief.

During this period Joseph spent a lot of time living with his son, Christopher Lee Canales in the city of Whittier. During this time Joseph lost a little bit of weight. 

In 2011 Joseph began suffering health problems related to his smoking and began to lose weight more rapidly. He suffered from a couple of falls and had several strokes.

In December 2013 Joseph Thomas Canales almost died from low blood pressure but was brought back when a pacemaker was placed into his body and jump started his heart. Since then Joe's health continued to suffer. He ate less and less and sometimes became disoriented.

Concerned about his dad's health and remembering his siblings did not have a chance to spend time with their mother before she passed, Robert Canales took Joseph to Texas to spend time (3 months) with his daughter Sharon and granddaughter Kodi in June of 2014. He helped his dad look for housing in Texas because he could not afford California. In September they took Joseph up to Kansas so he could have a chance to visit with his two oldest daughters, Cindy and Mary who had not seen him since 2005. They also looked for housing in Kansas until Joseph had to be rushed to emergency room for kidney failure. The VA, concerned about his life, had him transferred to Jane Phillips in Bartlesville Oklahoma where Joseph recovered. He was transferred to a physical therapy spot in Independence KS where his daughter, Cindy lived. He was to spend 20 days in therapy and improved to the point that he began eating again. He also played cards with his son, Robert, who spent day and night with Joseph while he was at the facility.

During the 20 days he was there, Joseph told Robert that first of all he wanted his family to stop fighting. He told more stories about World War II and that he wanted to be buried with his parents and his daughters in Los Angeles. He expressed his fears of suffocating to death and being buried alive. He would keep saying over and over again, "Don't let me suffocate to death." He also said, "When they bury me, tell them to make sure I am dead. I don't want to be buried or burned alive."

On October 30th, the day before Halloween and when Joseph was supposed to be released from physical therapy, Joseph was rushed to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Independence due to severe constipation. The staff at Montgomery reported that he had stopped eating and refusing his medications. They were frightened because he had not had a bowl movement since Monday when they began giving him anxiety medications. One aid reported that she checked on him when she came on shift on Wedneday and found his face was yellow. Joseph complained of needing to go the bathroom and not being able to. He tried to go to the bathroom without help and fell out of his bed bruising his ribs the week prior. On October 30's he began to vomit brown stuff from his stomach.

There was a dispute between Mercy and Montgomery over treatment. Mercy wanted to diagnose him with simple pnuemonia and release him. Robert and the staff at Montgomery insisted the hospital do an xray of Joseph's belly and when the hospital relented they found that Joseph's belly was filled with backed up excrement. The ER, instead of investigating the cause simply diagnosed the cause as constipation and prescribed a power laxative. When the nurse at the physical therapy facility learned of the impending release she was concerned and called the ER where the doctor argued with her, told her to never call the hospital again and hung up on her.

In the evening while still in the ER, Joseph vomited all of the floor of the ER room. Finally the doctor order a test for blood in the stool to see if he needed to be hospitalized. They found blood and Joseph was admitted to the hospital for futher examination on October 30th. They found he was dehrydrated from refusing any fluids and foods. They began infusions to increase his hydration but told the family there was no hope for him and said they should just leave him and let him die. The hospital was unfortunately understaffed and Robert and Joseph's other children who were able to visit had to hunt down nurses to ensure their dad was taken care.

On Halloween and Saturday Joseph was conscious and able to hold conversations. But by Sunday, November 2, Joseph unconscious and when he woke up he was no longer able to talk.

HIs son Chris had come to take him to his appointment at the VA facility in Long Beach California on November 12.

Concerned about this turn of events and the lack of staff at a hospital, his children sought to have Joseph transferred to the VA hospital in Wichita Kansas. They could not oblige because their CT machine was broken down and recommended Wesley Medical Center also in Wichita.

Joseph was transferred by ambulance to Wesley on Friday November 7, where he began recovering. He began to talk clearly again. The doctors diagnosed him with high sodium levels which can cause a person to be disoriented and make them look like they have dementia. They ordered fluids to flush out the sodium. They also did an Xray and found that Joseph had broken his ribs during a fall with in the previous two weeks. Most likely when he tried to take him to the bathroom at Montgomery Place. They also diagnosed him with severe anemia and placed a feeding tube on him because he could not swallow food. They also said that his kidney's were failing. In addition they wanted to check what a mass that took most of his right lung and was causing him trouble breathing.

On Monday, Joseph stopped breathingsuffered sudden heart failure during an interview with a physical therapist. The 20 members of the hospital staff rushed into the room and performed full code resuscitation. After 15 minutes they finally got a pulse and hooked him up to ventilator because he could not breath on his own. By this time his kidneys were completely gone and his brain had gone without oxygen. Joseph could not move his arms which he usually withdrew when they were poked with needles. Nor could he talk or make verbal sounds. The most he could do was move his eyes. The effort caused another break in one of the ribs and the lung that had the mass suffered a small collapse in the upper region, above the mass. The family, his children, made the decision to put him on Do Not Resuscitate status. The nurses reported that he moved his mouth when they tried wet it and his right arm moved a little when she poked a needle into it to give him medication to make him more comfortable.

Most of his children decided to remove him from life support because he was still fading. At 6pm Joseph Thomas Joaquin Canales was given his last rights by a Catholic Priest and his children and grandchildren who could not be there were given a chance to say goodbye to him by telephone through the day. At 9pm with his two sons, Chris and Robert, two daughters, Cindy and Mary, and two of his grandsons, Matt and Wade present, Joseph was disconnected from the ventilator. During this time Matt played some music on a Native American flute. As soon as the tube was pulled out of his mouth, Joseph began breathing on his own again but did not last long. After a ten minutes he stopped breathing and another 8 his heart stopped altogether. He was pronounced dead at 918 pm when he was reunited with his wife and his parents.

During his stay on earth Joseph had impacted a lot of people., had a lot of friends who will miss him.  He accomplished quite a bit despite betrayal and adversity. We hope he is in a better place.

Joseph Thomas Joaquin Canales

Born June 17 1925 in Barre Vermont to Joseph Canales and Ida Devine

Died November 10 2014 in Wichita Kansas at the age of 89.5 years.

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