Connected to nature and the universe, spiritual, charismatic, funny, and loving.
Josh made the people around him feel comfortable, safe, and protected. He was a big guy with an even bigger personality. When he walked into a room it was impossible to ignore his presence, almost as though he had his own gravitational pull – people were just drawn to him.
Growing up, Josh spent much of his time outdoors roaming around his family’s property. His unencumbered childhood exploration resulted in a lifelong love of nature, landscaping, and an undeniable gift with plants. “He always told us we had to talk to the plants and tell them we loved them. He swore that’s why so many of his stayed alive and thrived,” Josh’s youngest daughter Gabriella remembers.
Josh’s love of horticulture was surpassed only by his love of food and cooking. A professional chef by trade, he honed his skills every day. “It was when he was the happiest – in the kitchen. We always knew there was going to be some kind of really good food being served when we heard the Salsa music come on and the knives being sharpened,” Gabriella said. Josh adored Salsa music and, when fully immersed in his cooking, he would dance while he worked.
His long struggle with addiction took its toll on the family. According to Gabriella, “The uncertainty, the dysfunction, the lack of stability, and the discontentment between him and my mom,” were a few of the difficulties of growing up with Josh as a father. Gabriella said that she had a hard time believing him when he would tell her that he was sober, but she always desperately wanted to. “For a long time, I felt like I didn’t have my dad because he was out using – but now I really don’t have him, and it’s hard to accept.”
Josh had four children: Julia, Sabrina, Joshua, and Gabriella. Recently he had two grandchildren: Laylani and Elio. For Josh, his grandchildren felt like an opportunity to mend some of his past mistakes and hopefully become more involved in his family’s lives. He could hardly contain his excitement at becoming a grandfather, and his main goal was to just be as present as possible.
Things seemed to be looking up for Josh. Before he overdosed he had 96 days sober and talked about working in the recovery field himself. He wanted to help others. He wanted to show people how they too could overcome their addictions. He had a big heart and a deep love for those around him. Josh had a lot more to teach his family, and he seemed to be trying. “I miss all the things I never got to learn from him, the person he could have become in recovery, the dad he was striving to be those last few months,” Gabriella says. Josh will be missed for his unique way of navigating the world and his passion for the simple things in life – the beauty of a plant in nature, a delicious family dinner, the elegance of a Salsa dance, and the excitement of becoming a new grandfather.
Josh’s daughter, Gabriella Upole, provided the information for this narrative.
July 3, 1974–April 21, 2022-Age 48
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Scott Clower