My first personal contact with Joe Diblin was in 2008. Joe always had a paragraph at the end of each column stating if anyone had a veteran’s story they would like to share to please call him.
Our grandson, Hunter Raker, was 12 at the time and took him up on the offer. Hunter wanted my dad, Robert T. Schreffler’s, story told of his military service on the front line and in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. Since my father never wanted to talk about any of his time during WWII, I was skeptical about this idea, especially as it was to be a surprise. Joe knew how to handle the delicate situation and published his article on Father’s Day in 2008. My Dad said it was the best Father’s Day gift he had ever gotten.
That was the start of continual visits filled with great military and veteran stories and then turned to a precious friendship. Eventually, I began helping Joe out by typing and sending his articles online to The Daily Item.
I would look forward to getting together on a weekly basis to go over the articles and type them for him. While I would be there, his phone was constantly ringing. He had so many friends and acquaintances and always took the time for them.
He took his “job” at The Daily Item extremely serious and was very dedicated at getting his stories out each Sunday without fail. Sometimes he would call me with an “urgent matter” of an article he needed to get out this week for a veteran. He said numerous times that it was what kept him going.
Joe was always thinking of others. Years ago I bought him some joke books because he wanted to tell a joke each day to his friends at the lunch table to cheer them up. He also was very health conscious. He exercised religiously most days for an hour and a half using the rowing machine and the treadmill.
Whenever I ate with him, he would have grilled fish, sweet potato, fresh fruit, and a little dish of ice cream. One time when he was at our home for a meal, I offered him some Hershey Kisses. He actually took a knife and cut it in half and only ate half. How many people do that?
Each time Joe would call me during this pandemic, he would always ask if I was OK; are you sure you are OK.
He was more concerned about others, than himself. His humbleness showed through in his articles. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t making the articles about him but rather about the other veterans that he so admired.
When we would end our frequent phone calls he would always say, “You know Joe loves you not just for what you do, but for who you are.”
Today I would like to say the same about Joe; “We love him not just for what he has done, but for who he was.”
Cindy Raker lives in Selinsgrove.