August 21, 1927 - November 12, 2021
Joseph Espinosa Torres died peacefully in his sleep on November 12, 2021 at 6:14 p.m. surrounded by family at his home in San Bruno. He was 94 years old. Joseph was born August 21, 1927 in Sunnyvale, California in a wood cabin on Evelyn Street. His father, Francisco Torres, and mother, Maria Espinosa Torres, were Spanish immigrants from Castellar de la Frontera. Francisco (also known as Frank) and Maria had an arranged marriage and sought opportunity in Hawaii where they had heard of work in the sugarcane fields. Quickly realizing that the sugarcane industry was not lucrative, they moved to San Francisco to try the canning industry. They had seven children: Mary, Pat, Jeannie, Betty, Anita, Francisco (Frank), and finally, Joseph. Joseph (or Joe as he was fondly called) spent his early childhood in the cabin his father built, then on Muender Avenue in Sunnyvale. He recalled struggling at first in school, as he only knew Spanish, then becoming the class clown and having teachers tell him he should be on the stage. He formed a bond with his older sister Pat, who often watched him while his parents were at work. He remembered his mother and sisters waiting for the phones to ring at their house to let them know that it was time for canning. When World War II began, Joe was a teenager and waited eagerly for his chance to fight for his country. In 1945, when he was 17, he enlisted. He was on a troop ship headed toward Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He arrived shortly afterward, relating that he found the Japanese people scared and relieved to see the American soldiers. He spent the next months stationed a safe distance from Nagasaki where he patrolled the coast in PT boats. He later served in the military during the Korean War, though he never saw action. In 1951, Joe’s friend set him up on a blind date with a woman named Inez O’Connor. The night of their date, he picked her up in his new chartreuse Ford convertible. In June of that year, Joe proposed to Inez and they married on New Year’s Eve in Reno, Nevada. Inez and Joe had five daughters: Katherine, Judy, Mary Ann, Cynthia, and JoAnn. One day while driving home from work, Joe saw a sign that said, “If you lived here, you’d already be home!” It was 1958 and Inez and Joe were able to purchase the house in San Bruno with a move-in cost of $100.00. They would reside in this house for the rest of their lives. Inez passed away in 2003 from congestive heart failure. Their marriage lasted nearly 52 years. More than anything, Joe valued education and hard work. He had a handful of interesting work experiences that he credited with helping him become a successful man and achieving the American dream. He started working when he was nine years old, picking prunes, tomatoes, and cherries, earning two cents for every 40 pounds. He was able to pay for his own school clothes. Throughout his teenage years he worked for Shuckles Cannery before joining the Navy. He credits the Navy with teaching him the importance of education. After leaving the Navy, he took engineering classes at City College of San Francisco, driving across the Bay Bridge in his Model T. During this time, he worked at Hunt’s Cannery in Hayward, at San Quentin Prison as a translator and censor for Spanish inmates, and at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco as a junior engineer. Joe was able to see and meet many famous people in this last position, including John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr. After this, he worked several years at Bank of America on Montgomery Street in San Francisco, before obtaining his career job. In 1968, Joe began work as Chief Engineer for Bechtel at 50 Beale Street. He worked at the company until 1990, moving up in the ranks until he was a consultant traveling all over the world. Most notably, he spent time in Saudi Arabia, where Bechtel was building a city. Traveling for work afforded Joe time for his greatest hobby. He loved geography from a young age, which aligned with his love of travel. He was always looking for the next opportunity to see a new place. By the end of his life, he checked six of the seven continents off his bucket list, only missing Australia. Perhaps his favorite place to visit was Spain, where he enjoyed renting lodging in the wall of the castle where his mother grew up. He kept in contact with cousins in Spain and took many of his children and grandchildren there over the years. He loved going on cruises, and more recently took a ship around the tip of South America to mimic the trip his parents took when they emigrated from Spain. In his last years, Joe enjoyed living with his great-grandchildren Skylar and James Kattenhorn, who visited him in his room and watched Shirley Temple movies with him. He watched Turner Classic Movies, steamed vegetables from his garden, tended his plants, read James Michener novels, cultivated orchids, and corresponded with family. He notably did not get anxious about anything, letting things come and go. During a bout with bladder cancer in his 80s, he took each day one at a time and said there was no need to stress. He was an amiable and loving man. He could often be heard saying, “I love you with all my heart and that’s A LOT!” He was also incredibly generous with his time and money. He always lended a helping hand to those who needed it. Joe is survived by five daughters: Katherine O'Connor of Olympia Washington, Judy Wedekind and husband Gabriel of South San Francisco, Mary Ann Heran and husband David of San Bruno, Cynthia Kattenhorn and husband Darren of San Bruno, and JoAnn MacCallum, of Santa Rosa. He is survived by nine grandchildren: Justin Samuels, Jeanine (Heran) Charley, Joseph Kattenhorn, Rebecca (Heran) Wild, Jacob Kattenhorn, Jeremy Kattenhorn, Michael MacCallum, Jennah Kattenhorn, and Michaela MacCallum. He is also survived by five great-grandchildren: Skylar Kattenhorn, James Kattenhorn, Jaxon Wolf Samuels, Carter Wild, and Henry Charley.
Joseph Espinosa Torres died peacefully in his sleep on November 12, 2021 at 6:14 p.m. surrounded by family at his home in San Bruno. He was 94 years old. Joseph was born August 21, 1927 in Sunnyvale, California in a wood cabin on Evelyn Street.... View Obituary & Service Information
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