WWB – Legend, Lore, and the Loss of a Brother

This is a Personal Post in memoriam of my friend, Joe Westom.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

It’s been difficult, but I’ve managed to not write anything about or to Joe since Alex Durkee called me about Joe’s accident. It’s been hard because there is so much I wanted to say, but wanted to say to Joe. I enjoy reading all of the Guestbook messages each day; it makes me so happy to know that so many others feel as I do about Joe. It was a good decision for the doctors to restrict visits to family only—the number of “visits” to his support page tell of the love for Joe, and I believe that each of the 9,317 “visits” would have been ten thousand people going to Joe if the doctors had allowed it.

I wanted to take this time to reflect on my love for Joe, and to share some of my memories of him so they are not forgotten. First, one of the reasons I didn’t want to post any public messages goes back to our high school wrestling days. Many of you won’t know this, but Joe had a funny idiosyncrasy about people cheering for him during his match. For home matches, it was actually quite the scene. For every match, people scream and yell, offer hold suggestions, encouragement—but when Joe was up, the auditorium fell mostly silent—even his coach had to ‘try’ to refrain from barking orders at him. Then, as now, I would wait until it was over—until he would win, or lose, and either way I would be there to congratulate him for his resolute effort. Today, he lost his match, but I am here to congratulate him for the fight.

WWB Fer Brent S Joe Brent L Wrestle

WWB Fer Brent S Joe Brent L Wrestle

The qualities that attract us to Joe are known to all—his unwavering loyalty, reliability, and faithfulness to his friends and family. When I tell people that I’m from Portland, they inevitably ask “do you go back often?” To which I reply, not often, and explain that there are only 3 reasons that I go back to Portland—to see my brother, a family friend, and Joe. As you all know, Joe is the glue that holds many people not only to Portland, but to each other as well. His affable character forms the bond that keeps everyone together.

Some of you may see or hear vague references to “WWB”, and don’t understand what that means. Largely, it began as somewhat of a joke—a way to physically represent the bond shared among some of us and impossible to fully understand. This token created a “team” of brothers—not in blood but in bond.  Today is the first day that one of our brothers has fallen—I have dreaded the thought of this day. But…“It ain’t easy having pals.”

My memories of Joe’s character are still reaffirmed to this day. Even recently, the last two times I came to Portland and saw Joe, our bond and this friendship was confirmed immutable. I remember only visiting for a few days for a conference in downtown Portland, but seeing Joe several times. Even one night, close to midnight, when I texted him that I was bored in my hotel alone, and he asked if I wanted to see him—of course I did and he came downtown to take us out until [too] late in the night. He was always there for you.

And now, I will hold to my last memory of him, at my mother’s own funeral where he came to support me in my time of need of his friendship. And before we last parted we talked about his long-overdue trip to San Diego to visit me—in fact, when I decided to move, Joe and I drove down here together to stay with Brent Stewart (WWB!)—and my final interaction with Joe in this life was a hug goodbye; I will treasure this memory.

All of you will have your own stories to tell that paint the picture of his life and what he meant to so many people. It’s hard to come to a conclusion to this because there is so much I wish I could say, and I know that this, for me, will close the first part of a major chapter of my life.

To conclude, my story of Joe is not one of “me and him”—it comprises tales that include everyone that knew him, because we are all connected through him. Many of the tales will become legend, and some lore—and my enduring commemoration to his influence on my life will be to impart what he taught me about friendship and love. When I envisage this, I see ten thousand people who loved him—and I see Joe.



Fer O’Neil

WWB Fer Brent Joe Brent Prom

WWB Fer Joe Brent S Brent L Prom



Filed under General

14 responses to “WWB – Legend, Lore, and the Loss of a Brother

  1. Molly Lindquist

    Beautifully said, Fer. No words, just lots of love being sent to all who are mourning the loss of Joe. I have so many great memories of the WWB boys — some of my favorite memories from high school include you all. Sending love, my friend.

  2. Rachelle Stewart

    We treasure the memories of our loved ones to give us some sigh of relief during the pain of loss. While I didn’t know Joe as closely or as long as others, I know that when my husband Brent, speaks of his friends or his brothers, Joe is always there. I am so sorry that you are all letting go of a lifelong friend who connects you to one another. May God comfort each of you and Joe’s family now and always.

    With love,
    Rachelle Stewart

  3. Thank you for sharing!! What a special guy Joe was!

  4. Amber Lynn Carlson

    Thanks for sharing Fer. My best memories are with the WWB boys! Joe is an amazing man I am so thankful to call him my friend. Prayers and hugs to you and everyone as we reflect on Joe. He was definitely the glue that held us all together in one way or another. RIP my friend

    • Yes Amber, there are many memories from then, and most of them involve Joe in one way or another. He reflected the best of us and I will miss growing old with him around to reminisce on those memories.

  5. I Didn’t Know Joe well at al..l I met him at my sister and brother in laws wedding Abe and Johnell,he was the best man and my husband jeremy and I were in the wedding party too.. Joe Really made an impact on me that evening at the reception I fell and twisted my ankle pretty bad Joe was the 1st person to reach out his hand to help me up and ask hey are you ok wow you took a hard fall he said.. Later my ankle had swollen up pretty bad and he got up walked all the way up to the Garage and got me a bag of ice a bottle of wine and a blanket he said here is some ice for the swelling and some wine for the pain lol and then a bit later I was really cold from the ice and he went up and got me the blacket without even asking me if i needed it then he sat in the grass and chatted with me for hours…what an enlighted soul he was wise for his years 🙂 God he was a true Sweetheart really one of a kind Thank You Joe for taking care of me that night 🙂 Thank You for being such a great friend to my sister and brother in law May you soar with the angels….. Your mom should be proud she raised one hec of a son….

  6. David Smith

    Fer brother, It’s does me good to hear you all kept in touch over the years. I will always cherish those memories of all of us in practice. Those years were some of the best. So many great memories, Haha that i can’t even discuss here on this post. This was a great memorandum thank you so much.
    David Smith,
    WWB for life.

  7. Dale Romig

    Thank you. Joe being the glue is a great way to describe. I keep deleting what I want to say because I don’t know how to say it. Even though I hate the reason why, it was good to see you today.

  8. Pingback: WWB – Friendship, Love, and Saying Goodbye | ferswriteshoe

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