Joel Steven Hale, treasured son, brother, uncle, and friend passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, March 30, 2016, from heart complications. Joel’s presence filled any room he was in. He lived big and squeezed every moment out of his 48 years on Earth. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Joel could be counted on for a crazy story, joke, or to belt out a tune. His knack for inappropriate humor was a point of contention with his mom.
Born in Montana on April 28, 1967, to Janice and Larry Hale, Joel was the fifth of seven children. Many happy years were spent in the house on McBride Street. Joel treasured the memories and talked about them often.
Joel loved a good travel adventure. At the age of 19, he packed up the biggest duffle bag probably ever made and headed off to Europe for a month on his own. Throughout his life, he traveled extensively for business or with old friends, making new ones along the way. In his early 20s, Joel decided to leave Montana and moved to San Diego, as one friend commented, “in search of gold.” He would end up staying in California for 23 years, living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in addition to San Diego. In the spring of 2013, he came back to his roots and moved to Billings in order to be closer to family, for which they will be forever grateful. Joel settled right back into the Montana lifestyle, taking long drives and hikes in the mountains. He loved good food, both cooking and eating, and mixed up numerous baked goods with his trusty KitchenAid mixer, Betty. “Caramelized” was his favorite word.
Joel enjoyed being around his nieces and nephews, watching them in sports and school events, taking them shopping or to play tennis, or just laughing with them. Uncle Joe was loved.
Joel brightened the world with as much music as he could. His voice and ability to play the piano (mostly self-taught and by ear) were captivating. Joel was a member of the San Francisco Bach Choir and the Billings Symphony Chorale. There wasn’t a day where he wasn’t making music, on his own or entertaining others. The choirs of Heaven have gained another voice.
Joel was preceded in death by his father, Larry, and beloved Grandma Mabel. Survivors include Joel’s mother, Janice Hale White; brothers Larry Hale (Lisa), Chris Hale, Josh Hale (Dennette); sisters Janelle Oakland, Carla McCracken (Ron), and Jennifer Bodine (Roger); many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews; too many friends to count, and kitties Friday and Miss Kitty Wells.
We love you, Joey, and miss you so very much. Your spirit will be with us until we see you again.
In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, Billings Symphony and Chorale, or the charity of your choice.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Friday, April 8, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. The family will also be having a celebration of Joel’s life, with the date yet to be determined.