Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Joseph Card Jr.

Epilogue: Joseph Card Jr. overcame early homelessness, Iwo Jima wounds

Mr. Card

Mr. Card

ST. PETE BEACH — He had seen his share of hardship. His share of action. But Joseph Card Jr. wasn't the type to sit around and vie for sympathy — or glory. He was modest and very private.

Surely, he wouldn't like to be featured in the newspaper.

But his family wants to let people in on the interesting stories they might never otherwise hear.


At 13, he was homeless.

His parents had divorced and handed him off to his grandparents, who soon both died. It was the Depression era, and his extended family couldn't afford to take him in.

He ducked through the streets of Brockton, Mass., finding shelter wherever he could. One day, starving, he tried to steal a can of soup from a corner store. The store owner stopped him — if he needed food, he could work it.

Mr. Card moved in behind the store and worked there until he was 17. But it was clear, when he was old enough, joining the military was his best option.


In his 20s, he was in the second wave of Marines to land at Iwo Jima. His job was to probe debris with bayonets and sticks to find bombs that hadn't exploded, his family said. It was a task that nowadays, a machine handles.

His fifth day there, he posed for a picture with four soldiers. They leaned on an airplane fuselage riddled with bullet holes. Mount Suribachi, site of the iconic flag-raising photo, stood in the distance. Mr. Card smirked, cigarette in hand.

The next day, those four friends were killed. Mr. Card was injured, shot in the back. He left the island.

He never talked much about those days.


By his 60s, his life had settled down considerably.

He had a career as a director for the Veterans Administration, serving in Puerto Rico and Hartford, Conn. He and his second wife, Barbara, had a son, Matt.

In 1978, he retired to St. Pete Beach. He loved to dine at Carrabba's and Macaroni Grill. He was easygoing and fun, cigarette always in hand.

He got involved at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on St. Pete Beach, where he and his wife ran a bingo fundraiser. Almost every day, he stopped at church to pray. But he liked to go unseen — if someone spotted him, he'd say he was passing through on an errand.

Toward the end, ailing with emphysema, he let his emotions show. He told his family how he loved them. And on Monday, Mr. Card died. He was 89.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or (727) 893-8857.


Joseph Card Jr.

Born: Oct. 15, 1918

Died: Feb. 25, 2008

Survivors: wife, Barbara: son, J. Matthew Card and his wife, Heidi; stepchildren Gregg Reardon and his wife, Karen, and Jill Metz and her husband, Daniel; adopted son, Jay Card; grandchildren, Megan, Justin, Ryan and Kevin Card, Samantha, Britney, Harry and Elizabeth Reardon and Zachary and Jeffery Metz.

Services: 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the St. Pete Beach community center. Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. March 7 at St. John Vianney Catholic Church.

Epilogue: Joseph Card Jr. overcame early homelessness, Iwo Jima wounds 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.