In Memoriam: Joe Holmberg 23 March 1979 to 28 Dec 2007

Joe’s BBQ (By Sampsa) 7-5-2005-17-small  

I can’t believe that I’m writing this, but Joe H died a few days ago.

He had a very rare and apparently essentially incurable form of cancer that he fought with incredible humour and blogged with characteristic wit for around three months. As I said to him a couple of weeks before he died, I can only hope to write half as well as he did.

Even though I knew it was a possibility, it doesn’t feel like it hurts less for the forewarning.

Virtual Joe H - 10 Trinity Street - Last Party-4 Joe, along with Loz, Steph, Bob and Gray was one of the original 10 Trinity Street “household” from the second year of our degree course. The final Trinity Street party in 2007, nine years later, Joe attended “virtually” via a colour print-out of himself drinking a beer whilst he actually drank in Paris where he’d moved a few months earlier with Emilie.

He was a good friend from very early days in the first year at COGS at Sussex University. One morning he returned to lectures after a weekend at home seeing old friends and family and had that doubt that so many people starting university have; whether he should have come to university, leaving all his old friends behind at home.

But as it happens, I was asking him all about how his weekend went and saying how he seemed to have great friends at home like I did. It made him realise he wasn’t the only one to be feeling that way, and that there were good people at Sussex that may well prove to be just as much part of his life as those back home. So he stayed and so they became. As I know because he told me that story years later.

Joe H - South Laines - Summer 1999-16 He was blindingly, startlingly smart. He would understand things before almost anyone else in a lecture and would happily take the time to talk anyone else through it. In pub conversations he could get to the end of someone’s obscure line of reasoning and have a reinforcing point or a rebuttal ready before others had even understood the point.

But always with the same humility. He would battle to understand someone’s opposing view even if he could see it was nonsense. As someone, in one of the many, many comments on his blog summed up so well; it was almost as if he wanted to apologise for inconveniencing you by his having cancer.

And yet he could get so passionate and so angry when he felt people were behaving stupidly or unjustly. I often felt that an element of that anger came from frustration at not quite being able to understand why people were being that way. Joe simply wasn’t used to being unable to understand something. It was just something that so rarely happened to him.

I have many happy thoughts connected with Joe and only one sad; that’s he’s gone.

Joe’s BBQ (by Sampsa) 7-5-2005 The world is missing something important without you Joe.

3 Replies to “In Memoriam: Joe Holmberg 23 March 1979 to 28 Dec 2007”

  1. Well said.

    I always saw that he understood things quickly, it was never a big deal for him. It could be to do with anything techie stuff or arty stuff.

    I showed him a programming problem I was struggling with and he helped me out whilst I was still struggling to explain what it was. When filming a short video he just knew what I wanted with the barest of explanations. So incredibly easy to hang out with too, a very caring solid guy, he wore his gifts lightly and was blessed with huge energy.

    I have a huge respect for him, people like him are an antidote to cynicism.

  2. As I grow older I get a different perspective on life. It’s brevity, it’s potential and missed chances.
    It makes the news of someone so young losing their life harder to hear.
    Very sad indeed.

  3. I remember when I graduated from the College of Law, Joe held a graduation BBQ for me at his house because he knew I didn’t have anywhere to host a BBQ. Joe also gave me endless advice on guitars when I was purchasing my first guitar, and he actually ended up buying my first guitar from me. I used to go around watching his Seratone gigs like a groupie :-)

    Joe was also there at my final leaving dinner at Nandos the night before I left for the USA.

    You were greatly appreciated and will be sorely missed, Joe!

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