For Walsenburg to have a Veteran’s Hospital and Nursing Home it took several years and many people but a leader among them was Edward Joseph. He was the Veteran Service Officer for Walsenburg in the 1960’s and 1980’s and he worked tirelessly to accomplish this during the 1970’s.
Born in Walsenburg in 1919 to Norman and Malvina Joseph, he was one of eight children. His parents immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1892 when they were both 19 years old. They settled in Walsenburg a few years later. Norman Sr., Ed’s father, started a grocery store in 1909 and in 1923 he opened the Table Queen Bakery. He was very interested in civic affairs, a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Elks. Ed followed in his father’s footsteps. He worked in all the family businesses and became very involved in the community.
He graduated from St Mary’s High School and when World War II began Ed enlisted in the military with two of his siblings. He was in the 413th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion landing on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
Following his active duty he returned to Walsenburg and married Georgina Habib. They had three daughters, Malva (Knoll), Kathy (Rizzi) and Yvonne (McLean).
Ed drove a bread truck for 49 years taking the wonderful Table Queen bread throughout Huerfano County. In 1965 he became the Veterans County Service Officer because he felt there was so much that needed to be done for the veterans in our County. He remained County Veterans Officer over 27 years.
In 1976, he began seeking state support for the Veterans Home to be placed here. He wrote to Veteran’s organizations, the medical profession, fraternal and civic organizations. A bill was introduced to the state Legislature that year but failed. The Veterans committee of the State legislature preferred a site in Trinidad. The state owned land adjacent to the Trinidad State Nursing home.
Ed brought the director of the State Department of Health to examine both sites. He preferred Walsenburg. However, a second bill also failed in the legislature.
In the late 1970’s, Ed convinced the city of Walsenburg to donate acreage west of the Lathrop State Youth Camp. The land was originally leased to the Division of Fish and Game. Shortly thereafter, the board agreed to release the land for the new facility.
He and his committee of Ray Bustos, Charles Naroski, George Dussart, Charles Agnes, John McNabb, Fred Eccher, Jim Soltis and A. S. Lenzini, worked on another proposal. They gathered resolutions and support from the veteran’s organizations, the City, the County Commissioners, as well as LaVeta, Aguilar, and Trinidad. Later, the Las Animas Commissioners followed suit. All this added credence to the third bill that was introduced to the legislature. The third bill failed to pass also. When a fourth bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by Larry Trujillo of Pueblo, and introduced in the Senate by Jim Rizutto both passed.
While Ed never got to see his vision completely finished before he passed way, this realization of his vision resulted in a tremendous benefit to Veterans, and their spouses and Gold-Star Parents. In this time of renewed support and appreciation of men and women that have served in the military. Ed Joseph is truly worthy of recognition for his valiant efforts. A Legend of Huerfano County…. Edward Joseph.