Joe Doak devoted the final years of his own life to the final days of others'.

The retired electrical engineer didn't want patients at the HopeWest hospice in Grand Junction to die alone. So he became a vigil volunteer. Doak would sit with people, hold their hands, talk to them, pray with them.

This month, Doak passed away at age 96.

"The irony here is that, as far as we know, my father was alone when he passed," said Roger Doak, one of Joe's six children. "I'd like to think that all those people that my dad had comforted when they died, were actually there with him when he died."

Joe Doak was an electrical engineer, and owned an electronics shop to provide for his family. Volunteering was always important to him. Doak taught computer skills to seniors, English to immigrants and reading to kindergartners. He delivered Meals on Wheels and shared what he grew in his garden with friends and neighbors.

"That is the makeup of my dad. He wants to help people, wants to comfort people that may be alone. He is a very religious person, so I think this played into him being a devoted Catholic," Roger Doak said.

His father wasn't a stranger to hospice care when he began volunteering at HopeWest. Joe Doak had dutifully tended to his wife as she struggled with Alzheimer's, visiting her almost everyday over the span of more than four years.

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