Alfonso ” El Panameno” Joseph
February 15, 1934- January 1,2021
Alfonso Joseph – Life Highlights
Rev. Alfonso “El Panameño” Joseph, 86, passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of
January 1, 2021 at his home in Gum Spring, Virginia. After spending the prior week in the
hospital from health complications – all he wanted was “to make it home for Old Years night”.
His wish was granted. He made it home and soon after left this earth with his beloved wife of 54
years, Francesca Joseph, by his side.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Maria-Antonia Joseph, Maria-Lourdes
Joseph Perez, Belinda Reardon, Noam Winter, Othoniel Joseph, Jordan Joseph, Rebekah Joseph-
Hovington, Josue-Caleb Joseph, Ruhannah Joseph-Rojas, Raquel-Maria Joseph and Teresa
Joseph. He also leaves behind his eighteen grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
How do you condense 86 years of life? Where do we start? He was born in the Republic of
Panama and migrated to America where he spent most of his life. It would do him proud to
mention his career as an accomplished musician. Playing Latin music and Latin jazz with some
of the greats of the Palladium era as a bassist and vocalist in the late sixties and early seventies.
Arsenio Rodriguez, Candido, Celia Cruz and Tito Puente just to name a few. He was also a
composer – writing symphonies for a 49 piece orchestra in his head decades before he was able
to hear them for the first time when he had his album made in 2002 titled Orquesta Alfonso. It
was a culmination of his Latin roots, classical and Christian. A style of his own.
His greatest love – was his love of the Lord Jesus Christ, after becoming a Christian later in his
adult life – he committed his life to serving God and studying the bible. He became an ordained
minister and dedicated his life to helping others –in such a way that he emulated Christ…with
gentleness, compassion and kindness. To MANY he felt a lot like home – the place you go –
where you always know your welcome.
His laugh was like an eruption – BIG, BOOMING, strangely high pitched and accompanied by
wide eyes, a gaping mouth and a big shaking belly! Yes, he was distinguished, Brilliant, Refined
even. He spoke eloquently and intelligently. He was educated and a wordsmith – down to the
Greek and Latin origins but always on the fringe of every interaction was a sweet spark of
mischief. His sense of humor was his trademark. His emotions were outspoken – making his
love as big as his laugh. He loved good music. Even as he aged – if you threw on some Latin
music – it was like watching his youth return to his body. Even when he could barely walk – he
could still dance!
He was a whimsical storyteller – he’d tell them with his whole body and sound effects, some
came with a sound track of rhythms and noises he’d make using his mouth. He’d lived such a
full life from so many perspectives. He was a wealth of information, from his childhood growing
up “as a young chap in Panama” as he would say. Stories from the heydays of performing in the
bars and clubs in New York City, crazy brushes with celebrities such as Sammy Davis Jr.,
Richard Pryor and Eartha Kitt. He had a story for everything – and all he needed was a good pair
of ears to share it with. He just loved people. He loved to eat and it showed! He enjoyed Western
movies but mostly he lived for the moments he could spend with his greatest joy– His family.
He met his wife, Fran at a local coffee shop he patronized where she’d worked as a cashier. He’d
noticed her eyeing him from across the room. Flattered of course, he decided to ask her out.
According to her – she was wearing a pair of wooden-framed glasses because they were in style
at the time. Problem was they were not her prescription. She couldn’t see a thing that day – so
sadly, she wasn’t eyeing him – and yet, despite his delusion it sparked a journey together that
spanned over 50 years. He delighted in his children and grandchildren and was so proud of the
family he created.
He will live in our memories. He will live through our joy, laughter and humor; in our music and
dancing; in our art; our stories – and our love for each other. We are proud of our Papa. May he
rest easy knowing he did a job well done.
As he would say to each one of us as we left his company, we now say to him, “Te quiero mucho. Que Dios te bendiga y te guarde.”
In Lieu of flowers donations can be made to The Saint Jude’s Children Hospital.