Joseph Ira Gaines, Jr, 78 passed away on August 18, 2013 at his home at Sunrise Assisted Living in Santa Monica, California. He was born on July 3, 1935 in Hempstead, New York as the only child of Joseph Sr. and Marjorie (Godwyn) Gaines.
Joe grew up in Hempstead, New York and moved to Los Angeles, California at age 15. He graduated from John C. Fremont High School in Los Angeles, California in 1954. After high school he joined the Army in 1955 and served for 2 years. He was discharged in 1957, achieving the rank of Specialist Three, Honor Guard. He then attended Los Angeles City College for one year before returning to New York to attend McAllister School of Mortuary Science where he received his diploma in mortuary science in 1961.
He began his apprenticeship at the Richard Haskill Funeral Home in Amityville, NY. He then began to work as a director and partner at the Richard Haskill Funeral Home in Wyandorch, New York from 1963 until 1970. At the same time, he was an autopsy technician at Meadowbrook Hospital and created his own mortuary services contracting business, Joseph I. Gaines Mortuary Services.
In 1970, he moved back to Southern California to work at Angelus Funeral Home in Los Angeles. During his many years of employment in Los Angeles, he was a funeral director and embalmer at several prominent area funeral homes including Harrison, Ross Mortuary, House of Winston Mortuary, and Simpson Family Mortuary. He was known by all to be a consummate professional and a skilled embalmer. He mentored countless apprentice funeral directors over the years.
Joe was married three times. His first marriage to Margaret Alexander was in 1954 and produced his eldest children, Joseph III and Toni. He remarried in 1959 to Charlotte Brown. A second son, Jai, was born during this marriage. In 1966, he married Ericka Berkeley who he met while working at Meadowbrook Hospital. This marriage produced a second daughter, Jade and third son, Scott. Also, at their marriage, he took Ericka's three-year-old daughter, Liana, into his heart as his child. They were married when she passed on in November of 2005.
Joe was an active member of Epsilon Nu Delta Fraternity and was awarded Nu Chapter's Eagle Award in 2007. This award was a source of great pride for him, as it celebrated his 50 year commitment to the principles and practices of embalming. He was also very involved in the Western Knights Lodge #56.
His hobbies were hiking, yoga and tai chi. He had a lust for travel and enjoyed visiting distant locales such as Cape Town, South Africa and Costa Rica after his retirement.
Joe could best be described as an absolute friend to all. He was loyal to a fault and always willing to assist a friend in need. He was also a hard worker, willing to put his back into any job in order to get it done. Yet, he loved to hang out and socialize with his buddies. To say that he was the life of the party is an understatement.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph I. Gaines, Sr. and Marjorie (nee Godwyn) Scott.
Joe is survived by his six children, Officer Joseph I. Gaines III, Toni Conley, Jai Gaines, Dr. Liana Clark, Dr. Jade Gaines, and Officer Scott Gaines. He is also survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as friends and colleagues who will all miss him dearly.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.