The service for Joe Bower, a popular teacher who advocated for a better education system, will take place Friday at 2 p.m. at the Harvest Centre at Westerner Park in Red Deer.
Tamara Bower, his wife, said Tuesday they are calling the service “Joe’s Last Inning.” He loved and played baseball in the summer for the North Stars team. He played hockey in the winter.
Joe had a heart attack at home on Dec. 28, his 37th birthday, Tamara said. He passed away Sunday.
Tamara, 36, said that first and foremost Joe was a father and husband. “He was always there for us.” The couple, married 15 years, have two children, Kayley, 8 and Sawyer, 3.
Joe had a large online following for a blog he wrote on education, and he was known as being very passionate about his philosophy toward teaching. He was a teacher in the Red Deer Public School District, in the Alternative School Programs most recently.
Joe is a descendent of the pioneering Bower family, for which Bower Mall, Bower Ponds and the Bower subdivision take their names from.
The family is anticipating a large turnout at the service. Hundreds of online condolences to his family and tributes to him have been posted to social media.
After learning of Joe’s death, Alberta Education Minister David Eggan tweeted: “Am out of the country and just learned of the passing of my friend and education advocate (Joe Bower). Condolences to his family … Joe was so passionate about education and he made a real difference. He was taken from us far too soon and will be sorely missed.”
The reaction to Joe’s death has been “very touching,” Tamara said.
Joe was never one to be sick and there had been no indication that he had any heart issues, Tamara said. She is quite thankful for the medical help he received.
“The Red Deer EMS and Calgary Foothills were amazing. … If you could put that in I would appreciate that. … The doctors, the paramedics, the nurses, and the (cardio unit) in Calgary … the care was stellar. It made a really horrid experience better because they were so caring and kind.”
The family had been having a good holiday season together, she said. “It was a lovely Christmas and we have so many amazing memories because we had so much family time. It was really nice.”
“It’s very, very hard, especially with all the publicity. … Everyone knows the education side of him but he was a stellar man at home,” Tamara said.
“We’re going to miss him. It’s a big hole in our life. It was very sudden.”