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NewsCommunityLongtime Milpitas resident celebrating his 100th birthday

Longtime Milpitas resident celebrating his 100th birthday

Longtime Milpitas resident Joe Gallegos, who moved to Milpitas in 1970 and lived here for over 50 years, will turn 100 years old in March, and is having a celebration at Christ Community Church; family and friends of Joe’s will be in attendance.

Joe was married for almost 75 years to Louisa. The two of them made their lives in Milpitas. Louisa passed away in 2019, and Joe now lives in Aptos, near Santa Cruz.

The Beat connected by phone with Joe’s granddaughter Kristen, who lived next door to her grandparents here in Milpitas while growing up. “My grandpa’s an amazing guy,” Kristen said.

 

 

Joe worked mainly as a teacher, but served the U.S. in World War II. He was based mostly in England and France, but also spent time in Germany and throughout Western Europe. He worked as a radio operator in the Army Air Corps, which would later become the Air Force. On one memorable day, legendary comedian Bob Hope put in a phone call to encourage the troops, and Joe picked up the phone! Being a radio operator, he didn’t see much action on the front lines, but he also tells stories about helping to pick up prisoners of war and transfer them to the hospital. Their vulnerability and emaciated appearances made a lasting impact on him. 

 

Joe and his family in 1958.

 

War taught Joe to appreciate life more. Said Kristen, “I would describe him as a very calm and loving and sincere person.” He’s also widely known for his sense of humor, and his knack for finding the joy in things.

Kristen remembers being a kid and taking walks long with Joe up in the Milpitas Hills. Piedmont Road was just beyond the fences on her family’s property. An animal and nature lover, Joe would always point out different creatures roaming in the hills, teaching Kristen about everything from snakes to tree rings. 

War also instilled in Joe a love of traveling, which he passed down to Kristen. In 2018, when Joe was in his early 90s, he and Kristen took a trip to Italy together. Joe’s been studying Italian now for seven or eight years. Since his first language was Spanish, he’s been picking up Italian pretty well. 

 

Joe and Kristen in Italy in 2018.

 

Joe has four children, twelve grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren to count. “They were focused on their family,” said Kristen of Joe and Louisa. “They would do anything for their family, and I think they really focused on a relationship that was centered on that and really based in love.”

In her Grandpa Joe, Kristen sees the value of living a life of faith without taking things too seriously. “See the humor and the positive in any circumstance” is how Kristen sums up Joe’s worldview.

Joe Gallagos will turn 100 years old on March 11, 2024.

 



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Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer & filmmaker. As a screenwriter, he’s won a Fade In Award and written numerous feature films in development by companies including WWE, Mandalay Sports Media, Game1, and Select Films. He is also the resident script doctor for Rebel Six Films (producers of A&E’s “Hoarders”). As a journalist, Eric’s won a California Journalism Award and is co-owner and editor of The Milpitas Beat, a Silicon Valley newspaper with tens of thousands of monthly readers that has won the Golden Quill Award as well as the John Swett Award for Media Excellence. As a filmmaker, Eric’s directed award-winning feature films that have premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and Shriekfest, and been endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Eric’s apocalyptic novella “It’s Only Temporary” appears next to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on Nightmare Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Horror Novels of All Time. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.

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