August 16th 2017 (1-4 pm)
by Jeff Stackhouse
Joe Rikley was a true staple of the Mission BC Canada landscape. He was almost always at Tim Hortons on First Ave, at the Racetrack, or buzzing about on his motorized wheelchair from day to day. Everyone in Mission knew him or knew of him as he was always out and about, trying to make a difference for himself, for others and for all Self-Advocates and Special Olympics athletes.
I was fortunate enough to meet Joe 15 years ago and he touched my heart profoundly as he did with everyone he met. Even with the massive challenges that life threw his way, Joe persisted and never gave up. He fixed my computer with attention to detail and gave his loving smile whenever he had the chance. His peaceful quiet demeanor was special; his love for music and computers was inspirational.
His Celebration of Life began at 1pm sharp with MC Selena welcoming the crowd to take their seats and settle in. Soon after Elder Dan began a native drumming ceremony. The lyrics he sang translated into English meant “Good to see you” Mission’s Indian Friendship Center was a personal favorite hangout of Joe so this was a perfect way to begin the afternoon.
Next to speak was Pastor Carl Keller with a biblical message and prayer. His message centered around how fleeting life can be, and how “He is the way… He who has the son has eternal life” A stand out quote was “May we be the encouragement to others that Joe was to us.”
MC Selena then returned to the podium to give the Eulogy. In it, we learned a lot about Joe’s life, his friends, his business, and his schooling.
Joe moved to Mission BC at 4 years old and lived on 4th Ave. His favorite places to go were A+W, Timmies on 1st, and The Mission Friendship Center. Unfortunately Joe was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at a young age. Even though that was a big challenge Joe remained very happy and dealt with his personal challenges with grace, dignity, and a big smile. His “indomitable spirit” helped him live life to the fullest as he enjoyed computer work, Canucks and BC Lions Games, and friendship. His condition did not define his life nor stop any of his passions. He will remain a prime example that disability actually means diverse-abilities, as Joe clearly displayed his many abilities to the world.
Joe was known to many as DJ Wheels, his professional DJ name. His DJ skills were amazing, and it was perfect for Joe because he could now mix his love for computers and music into one cohesive passion.
His family consisted of parents, Penny and James Rikley, Jeff, Shannon, their children, and every friend, cousin, and person he came into contact with along the way. Joe’s love and bond for all people, especially family, was highlighted several times this afternoon.
Friends and family noted he was a great gentle spirit and “amazing young man” who “now knows something we don’t” about Heaven. In Heaven there is no disease, no wheelchair and Joe is free from all physical limitations. Amen!
Next up to the podium to speak about Joe was his boss Cam Dore, the head of computer technology at Home Society. (H.O.M.E.S) Cam is a great guy who loved Joe a lot. He talked about meeting Joe, and how he always had a big smile on his face as he fixed computers for him for 8 years. “ Joe taught us a lot about accessibility” as he went everywhere in his wheelchair. “If there was an issue with transport, Joe was first to know and to make things right”, said Cam. He was “a trooper” and “a geek” who looked after 100 computers for the whole province. This was a big eye opener for the Ministry of Canada because they thought he was recycling computers but were shocked to realize he was actualy fixing them all! (The entire agency ran on computers that Joe and Bryce (Joe’s best friend) fixed!)
He was determined to fix every computer no matter what. If he didn’t know how to fix something, he was on Google finding the answers. He saw the positive side of all issues.
On a personal note, I met Joe and Cam 15 years ago at a retreat and we all came up with the idea to create a website designed for people with disabilities in BC Canada. Joe’s best friend Bryce Schaufelberger was also part of the group that helped get the much-needed website off the ground and continues to work on the selfadvocate.net site daily. He misses Joe dearly and works hard everyday to continue the hard work and passion Joe had for computers, music and the website.
Cam states that Joe loved to play music ( As “DJ Wheels”) and used apps on his phone to play the latest hits. He was currently taking business and marketing courses at UFV in Abbotsford to advance his skills for his DJ company, djweels.com
Next up, there was a great video presentation that consisted of 3 songs to a backdrop of photographs of Joe from childhood to this year. The video was created by Joe’s niece Haley. The presentation brought a tear to everyone’s eyes but also a smiles as we remembered the good times with Joe.
Open mic was a highlight of the day as all friends and family came up to the mic , one by one, in line, and spoke to Joe and his family. Every speech touched every heart and Joe’s family and friends were blessed deeply by every word spoken.
Finally a balloon release ended the program. All in attendance wrote loving memories, wishes and messages to Joe on each balloon and they were released up into the sky for Joe to see in heaven. People watched in awe as the colorful balloons reached all the way up to the clouds and beyond. This was a truly beautiful way to end an afternoon of precious memories.
Joe Rikley touched all of our hearts in a profound and special way. His determination and zeal for life was remarkable and inspirational. We will all never forget Joe. He is in our hearts and will live on inside all of us for
Here some photos from Joe celebration of life