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Joe Eklund, “Smokey Joe” 81, of rural Augusta, died May 20, 2019, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

Josef Elmer Eklund, son of Elenore (Snider) and Elmer Eklund was born Sept. 17, 1937, in Creston, Iowa. His father passed away on April 14, 1937, and his mother later married Maryatt Karstensen. Joe was raised in Zearing, Iowa, where he lived until moving to Augusta with his family in 1955. He graduated in 1956 from Augusta High School and entered the U.S. Navy in January of 1957.

Joe’s enlistment led to a 20 plus year Navy career. Through his career he had served on various naval ships, was stationed twice in Charleston, SC, and also in Norfolk, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Long Beach, CA, and when honorably discharged he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois. He had served 4 tours in Viet Nam, was the recipient of many honorable service medals, and was assigned as a minesweeping electrician as well as an electrical instructor.

While station in Charleston he met Margaret “Marge” Adcox, the two later married on Feb. 4, 1961, in North Charleston. When Joe retired from the service in 1977, the family moved to Augusta and made their home on the Dells Pond.

After Joe returned to Augusta, he may have retired from military service but went on to completely give of himself to the serve the residents of Augusta and surrounding area, as community involvement took precedence in his life.

Joe had been a member of the Augusta-Bridge Creek Fire Department, Augusta Lions Club and V.F.W. With the fire department he held the position as assistant fire chief and fire inspector. He was the first one to hold special sessions to teach the Amish families about fire safety, and also spent countless hours with the Augusta school children at the fire station giving them tours of the station and stressing the importance of what to do in case of a fire and most importantly how to stop, drop and roll. Of course he did all of this for the children with his canine companion “Big.” With the Lions Club he worked hard at the lions field and hall, he made sure all the sound systems were in place for the Bean and Bacon Day Parade, and also during Bean and Bacon Days he diligently saw to it that the trash and cans were properly taken care of. Joe was instrumental in the formation of the Augusta-Bridge Creek Recycling Center which he ran for 26 years, he had also worked on the Bridge Creek Township road crew, and had served as the area dog catcher. Joe was an extreme advocate of boy scouting and had served as a leader when his sons were Augusta Boy Scouts. Joe had also worked with the city when hired to replace city sidewalks, as well as for many private individuals. He and Marge also served as the sextons for the Augusta Cemetery Association for 3 years.

Even with all his commitments to the community, Joe always had time to help anyone who needed a hand. He was truly one of a kind who gave from his heart to so many and it was only his failing health that put an end to that. He will be remembered fondly by those he helped and by all of his friends who he shared countless cups of coffee with. Rest in peace dear friend.

Joe will be dearly missed by his 3 children, Marlene (William) Harmon of Lyle, MN, Pete Eklund and Nathan “Smiley” Eklund both of Augusta; 4 grandchildren, Anson Eklund, Shawn Harmon, Stephanie (Dustin) Gaul and Joshua Eklund; and by 6 great grandchildren, Shanna, Caitlyn, William, Josef, Desmond and Barrett. In addition to his father, Joe was also preceded in death by his mother and step-father; his wife Marge; sister Doris Perisho; sister-in-law Willie Karstensen; and Big.

A celebration of Joe’s life with military and fire department honors will be held Sunday June 9, 2019 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Augusta-Bridge Creek Fire Dept. in Augusta. The family is assisted by Anderson Funeral Home in Augusta.

Online condolences can be left at www.andersonfhaugusta.com.