In Memory

Joe Guandolo

Joe Guandolo

Joe Guandolo passed away on September 1, 2014, in Walkersville, Maryland. He was preceded in death by his parents John and Elizabeth (Wade) Guandolo and a close uncle and godfather Kevin Wade. He is survived by his soulmate Frances Rice who visited Joe every day at the nursing home where he resided for many years.  Joe was a retired doctor.

Prior to attending WJ, Joe went to Grosvenor ES and North Bethesda Junior High. He graduated from Gettysburg College and medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1979, Joe suffered a brain aneursym that left him blind and unable to walk. He had been residing most recently in the Glade Valley Nursing Facility in Walkersville, Maryland, outside of Frederick.  Joe found great strength in his deep belief in God and Jesus and in his study of the Bible. In spite of all his challenges, Joe was an upbeat and positive "glass half full" type of person. He never complained. That comes through in his linked profile, which was dictated in 2009 for the website. He had a big heart, inquisitive mind (he loved history through audio books), and great sense of humor.

Joe attended the 40-Year Reunion accompanied by Frances. He cherished his friends and memories from his youth and very much appreciated the emails (sent through the website), calls, and visits. Although it didn't work out because of some physical limitations with his hands, he also very much appreciated efforts to help him become computer literate through use of adaptive technology for the blind.

Joe was laid to rest on Saturday, September 6, 2014, in Barnesville, Maryland, in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, on a beautiful sunny morning. His funeral was a moving service with many people remembering Joe and how he touched their lives and provided inspiration.  

Joe will be deeply missed. His story is a profile in courage in the face of adversity.

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09/07/14 03:53 PM #6    

John William (Bill) Bowling

I have many fond memories of Joe. First, he helped me get through algebra.I don't think I would have made it without his help. Also, he was part of my best day at Walter Johnson a few weeks before graduation when he , Randy Loftus and myself skipped school for Randy to take us sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. There may have been someone else with us-Steve Howard? Chip Williams? I can't remember for sure?? It was an absolutely georgeous day and Randy's skill kept us from being run over by a freighter. Joe still talked about a pair of sunglasses that went overboard on that trip!

We lost touch after graduation and a decade or so later I ran into Bob Grossman at a physical therapy seminar,  and he told me about Joe having the aneurysm that put him in a nursing home. Somehow, I tracked him down from Florida, and we would talk a couple of times a year. I never heard Joe utter one word of bitterness or regret about his life circumstances. Evidently, he was just ready to open a neurology practice and engaged to be married and this terrible event came into his life.While the rest of us were out getting married, having kids and pursuing careers, Joe had been in a nursing facility! I found his cheerful attitude utterly amazing.

Joe and I had something else in common. In spite of having negligible contact in the years immediately following high school and living in different parts of the country , we had both become Christians.For both of us, our faith had become the central portion of our lives. Although Joe's trials made any difficulty in my life seem miniscule, I realized that his graciousness in adversity was directly connected to knowing in his heart that God had not deserted him and had a special plan for his life. We had many conversations about faith and the Bible. I know Joe taught a Bible study to the other residents of the home he was in. I'm sure he will be missed.

When I got the message that Joe had left us I had mixed feelings. I was a little sad because I was looking forwards to seeing him at the upcoming reunion, but felt great joy that he was now home and residing in one of those mansions that Jesus said he was going forth to prepare for them that love him. No more suffering. No more pain. No more blindness!!! Joe can run again!!!!! Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death,Where is thy sting?

You had a hard road in life my brother. Rest in peace. I'll see you in a little while.

Your brother in Christ,













09/07/14 06:47 PM #7    

Michael Loughran

Thanks, Randy - I didn't know Joe personally, but after reading your piece on him, I kind of wish I had.

LO (in retrospect) L - I wonder if Joe was one of the kids us 2nd-grade Ashburton-ers were told to "make friends with" when we were temporarily transferred to Grosvenor while a new wing was being constructed at Asburton?

RIP, Joe.

09/08/14 11:58 AM #8    

Richard Tipton (Lear)

Randy - you're a saint! Joe - you've been an inspirtation for us all... Live on! 

It was the summer of 1967. Joe, Randy, Bob Glass, Bob Kunzendorf and I spent long, sweltering days working on the sod truck for a mere $1.60 per hour. We thought rolling sod would toughen us up for the rigors of high school football. And it did. And more. We found ourselves wrestling with hundreds of 40 lb. sod rolls for 10-12 hours a day as the hot summer sun beat down hard on us. We also found ourselves working shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of real characters. These lifetime laborers from the inner city and impoverished shanty towns (Scotland), gave us an education on culture, values and life experience that none of us had ever known. We were the spoiled white boys. They were the hardened African-American laborers, who carried knives and told incredible stories from their weekend exploits. We heard it all - bar fights, manly conquests, shattered families, seductive women --all soaked in swigs of Boone's farm wine and shots of cheap whiskey.

That summmer, we got a peek into another world, one full of explosive passion and violence. The five of us really grew up that summer. It was an eye-opener. In those years, we experienced our own separate rites of passage, but this would be one shared rite that none of us would soon forget. 

Five sixteen year-old over-sized kids, squeezing tight into a VW beetle or Joe's mini (Datsun?) were growing up a little bit faster that far-away summer. These five boys would ultimately find their separate paths: an environmentalist, a technology headhunter, a college professor, a real estate broker and a doctor. All would serve and make their mark. But the world would be robbed of the best years of one: our dear friend, Joe Guandola.

We'll miss you, Joe.



09/08/14 04:13 PM #9    

Sara Wooddell (Coe)

One of my favorite memories of Joe was when we were in 6th grade at Grosvenor. My
mother sewed a beautiful pink flapper costume for me. Joe went as a clown (of course).
There was a "Best Costume" contest and we tied. So our teacher Mr. Frick devised a
tie-breaker. We each had to perform for 5 minutes. All I could think of to do was a
Charleston--which was pretty bad and hard to sustain for 5 minutes. Joe, on the other hand had no problem clowning around and making everyone laugh like crazy for 5
minutes. Joe was always a fun happy guy-in good times and bad.

09/09/14 09:00 AM #10    

Linda Clark (Spoales)

I don't remember Joe from high school but I spoke with him at the 40th reunion for a while and had a wonderful conversation. Frances was by his side of course and seemed to be enjoying herself as well. Afterwards Ben and Neil recruited me to help teach Joe typing (I was retired from teaching, running a grant and lived in New Market-close by). Altholugh that didn't pan out and Joe finally called a halt to his weekly typing lessons I missed our Thursday visits. Joe was president of the resident's association there and one time had to cut our time short so he could go to the monthly meeting. He also mentioned restaurants he and Frances would go to for a change of pace from  the food at Glade Valley. Although I didn't maintain contact (could have, would have should have. . .) I thought he was an amazing individual with an incrediblely positive outlook!

09/11/14 11:01 AM #11    

Bob Glass

My family moved from southwestern Pennsylvania to Bethesda when I was in the middle of third-grade. Joe, Randy Loftus and Eddie Grosvenor befriended me immediately enabling a seamless transition to life in Bethesda.  Joe was always a character. I remember him running headlong into a brick wall on the exterior of Grosvenor Elementary School and chipping a brick with his head. Rather than being knocked unconscious Joe bounced to his feet laughing and smiling that big Joe grin. This surely was indicative of his high tolerance of pain, both mental and physical, that he would endure for the majority of his life. As a kid, Joey certainly had his mischievous side that drove the teachers a Grosvenor crazy. One year, I think it was fourth-grade, our teacher felt strongly that Joe was "mentally deficient" and demanded he be tested. He was, and as it turned out he had an IQ that was off the charts and was simply bored in class. Joe and I remained close friends through North Bethesda, WJ and while in college. He vacationed with my family and I with his. We worked together on a sod crew (See Richard's comments) and enjoyed the same nightlife. Then for Joe it was off to "The Guad" and med school then trajedy. Rest in Peace, my friend, the final victory is yours. One day we'll meet again on the other side.

09/11/14 06:55 PM #12    

Chris Colao (Ellison)

Wow, so many lovely and inspiring tributes, as well as humorous stories about Joe.  I didn't know Joe in high school. My only contact with him was sending him a birthday card through this WJ website.  It's times like this that offer us the opportunity to take an inventory of our own lives--how we've lived it so far, and how we plan to live it going forward.  When asked HOW he would like to be remembered, the great Roy Orbison simply stated that he'd like to BE remembered.  These many remembrances of Joe show what we can all learn from him in his death:  to live a life that has indelibly touched the lives of the ones we leave behind, rich in abundant, cherished memories. God Bless you, Frances, for your unwavering devotion to Joe through the years.  To love and care for him as you did shows great compassion, and a heart full of love. To Joe's family, my deepest sympathy on your loss. 

09/15/14 03:30 PM #13    

James Marquardt

I remember 4th and 5th grade at Grosvenor Elementary School and of course Joe. (I moved and went to Wyngate Elementary in 6th grade) A bunch of us used to play tackle football after school on the playground. What a rag tag bunch we were! Our football gear was a joke, and nobody wanted the ball because it always ended up in a huge pile on tackle with everyone laughing, except the poor guy on the bottom of the pile! Sometimes I really wonder how we survived. Joe was always kidding around and making everyone laugh. I noticed at the 40th reunion (my first) as everyone took turns saying hello to Joe. Still smiling and laughing and touching people's lives. Such a gift to the World. Save us a seat for when we get there Joe, and may God bless you and your family always.

09/16/14 10:48 AM #14    

Chip Escoffier

Joey was a great guy,, it was so nice to see him at the 40th reunion. his attitude was infectious.. I use  to call him " Jawoppie"and he called me "Frenchy" got to see him a couple years after high school, before he went down to medical school. The thing I remember about him most, was running wind sprints in football practice, Joey had short legs, and wore baggy football pants,, now Joey wasn't the fastest, but he had such a positive attitude, and did everything with a smile on his face.

God bless you " Jawoppie" rest in peace, you will never be forgotten.   Chip 

09/16/14 10:48 AM #15    

Chip Escoffier

Joey was a great guy,, it was so nice to see him at the 40th reunion. his attitude was infectious.. I use  to call him " Jawoppie"and he called me "Frenchy" got to see him a couple years after high school, before he went down to medical school. The thing I remember about him most, was running wind sprints in football practice, Joey had short legs, and wore baggy football pants,, now Joey wasn't the fastest, but he had such a positive attitude, and did everything with a smile on his face.

God bless you " Jawoppie" rest in peace, you will never be forgotten.   Chip 

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