San Diegans continue to mourn the death of San Diego icon, Father Joe.
Father Joe Carroll built a nonprofit organization to help the homeless in San Diego for nearly 40 years. He died at the age of 80 Sunday after battling diabetes, Father Joe’s Villages confirmed in a release.
Carroll died at a hospice care home the morning of July 11 in the East Village, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, who was the first to report on Sunday.
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"Father Joe has been an icon in the San Diego community for years and years," Deacon Jim Vargas President and CEO of Father Joe's Villages said. "He started out by handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches back in 1982, so quite awhile ago, and before you knew it he mustered up a lot of community support and by 1987 within five years he opened up his first building which is called the Joan Kroc Center."
Vargas told NBC 7 that although Carroll retired back in 2011, the late icon was still very much a force within the community of San Diego.
"I’m just very proud as the current President and CEO to be carrying on his legacy," Vargas said. "There’s a building actually that’s going to honor him in its promenade and it’s 14-story building 407 units called St. Theresa of Calcutta Villa and we will be cutting that ribbon, God’s Willing, in February of next year."
San Diego Councilmember Chris Cate also remembers Carroll for a particular, special moment.
"Father Joe was someone that was not only cherished within San Diego and across the Country but he was someone that was particularly close to my wife and I and our family, we had the pleasure of having him guide us through our wedding and our marriage," Cate said.
Cate met Carroll in 2009 when he was working for then City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer. Cate told NBC 7 he had the chance to meet Carroll and work on various issues with him.
"In one of our conversations with him I asked him if he’d be willing to officiate our wedding for my wife and I and he chuckled a little bit and graciously agreed to do it," Cate said.
Cate said through the process of getting married, he and his wife got to sit down with Carroll, discuss their faith and what marriage is about and really got to be close to him.
"We definitely lost a voice when it came to helping our homeless, someone who is always a guiding light for San Diego and someone when he spoke we all listened," Cate said.
A private funeral mass will be held with Carroll's close friends and family.
Father Joe’s Villages will host a celebration of the life and work of Father Joe. Further details will be made available in the coming days.
The public can leave flowers and messages between 15th and 16th street on Imperial Avenue near the Joan Kroc Center. Those who want to leave condolences online or share their stories can do so by going here or can post stories on social media using #FatherJoeLegacy.