Joe was one of the best class of hobbyists – a fellow who identified that something was missing – and then, instead of complaining about it, he took action: the result was O Scale Trains magazine – a publication dedicated to scale modelling in 1:48. That was back in 2001 – an era when the hobby was losing magazines, so it must’ve taken serious stones to decide to launch one.
Unlike many in the hobby publishing business, Joe was also not afraid to be political about the hobby. He advocated for the repatriation of manufacturing from overseas, arguing that when it comes to a luxury like a hobby, we should be prepared to pay decent wages to those who produce our goods. He urged people to learn skills and do better, rather than accept the status quo. And this is reflected in the magazine he created, which is full of how-to articles useful for people in all scales.
Joe was an early champion of The Model Railway Show – the podcast that Jim Martin and I co-hosted for two and a half years. He was our first guest, on our first show, in which he discussed the state of O scale. That interview set the tone for future shows. O Scale Trains magazine was also an early sponsor of the show.
I was fortunate to meet Joe at an O Scale March Meet in Lombard, Illinois a couple of years ago. It was a highlight of the trip.
My sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues at a difficult time. Cancer’s a bastard.