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Joseph Alfonso Obituary
Live Stream Link will be available at 11/18/2022 at 3:55 pm:https://www.hdezwebcast.com/show/alfonso1
On Monday, November 14, 2022, Jose (Joe) Eliezer Alfonso, went to be with his lord and savior after a brave and hard-fought battle with cancer. He was only 59 years old.
Joe was born in New York (Manhattan) to Teresa and Jose Alfonso on December 8, 1962. At an early age, Joe grew up around a huge supporting family where everyone offered a helping-hand no matter how big or small the ask and always found a reason to celebrate happy moments within the Alfonso family. And much like the Cuban Way, celebrating birthdays were always done in true Cuban fashion where every year the infamous Pineapple birthday cake made an appearance much to Joe's preference for all things chocolate. Needless to say, he became a fan of the Pineapple filling because this was the way it was done and he loved making others around him happy. At any given time, you would also find little Joe riding his little mini motorbike or tinkering on engines, as well as finding a true passion for music (he loved punk and hard rock, especially the Ramones) and his childhood hero - Ultraman. The seeds were soon planted that would define him in later life where he saw how his family always came together in order to help others out and how he truly cherished making others happy.
Years later, Joe met the love of his life, Marlene. At this time, Joe was residing in Tampa and Marlene was located in Miami and prom was fast approaching for Marlene. They were introduced through a mutual couple (ironically who they both considered their adopted grandparents) and a phone call finally connected Joe and Marlene after many attempts to meet. They hit it off that call so well that when the topic of prom came up, Joe simply said "I was hoping you were going to ask." And it must have meant the world to Joe because soon after, he drove over 280 miles south in his freshly waxed white Miata and in full tuxedo dress where he appeared at Marlene's door and the rest is history.
Joe and Marlene married in 1994 and he relocated to Miami in starting a new life with Marlene. It was here that Joe graduated with a International Business and Marketing degree from Florida International University where he had a career vision that would soon define how people would come to know Joe. He absolutely loved his Mazda Miata and he soon opened his own Miata aftermarket parts company in a small house that he and Marlene now shared, then called Rogue Speed. As the business grew, so did Joe's passion for truly connecting with customers and the way they were treated - much like he saw in his own extended family. They eventually found a small rental storage space in Pembroke Pines and set up operations in order to run the business and for all the shipping that was starting to overrun their home. Expansion for the business continued to grow and in 1997 they packed up and moved to Georgia with their close friends and business partners, Hector and Mariela Manduley. After saving every penny they had, they opened their first public retail location (a charming small shop with one tiny display case and small bathroom) in Smyrna, GA rebranded now as R Speed - a full service Mazda Miata repair and parts shop. The overwhelming success soon followed and they happily expanded to a much larger retail location initially in Marietta and finally back in Smyrna where the company flourishes today. Everyone came to know "Papa Joe" because he was everywhere in the shop - no job too big or too small. Joe simply showed up every day to the shop with a warm smile for anyone who walked in. You would always find Joe under a Miata changing the oil, installing new wheels (lug nuts always at 85 ft-lbs!) or showing you a funny video that made him chuckle so much with that infectious laugh, that seemed to permeate the very walls of the shop. And if you were lucky enough to be there to hang out with him...you were offered a fresh and warm Krispy Kreme donut, hot coffee and possibly a spirited discussion around the day's stock market or asking for advice on a new product that he was developing for the Miata. Joe was that kind of guy and knew how to connect with each and every one of us - every day.
Through his love and passion for the Mazda Miata and all things 4 and 2 wheels, Joe never put himself above the customer and loved spending time with new and existing customers alike. Joe was always one to dedicate his own personal time on a given Saturday to open the shop and to show someone how to install the newest RSpeed product, fix their Miata or even host over 150 valued customers, friends and employees for the popular annual RSpeed Open House which he loved dearly. Joe would always find time for a friend in need over a quiet evening at his favorite sushi shop, or share his music passion with a buddy by attending a local concert, or even a heart-felt phone call for someone in the hospital....Joe always continued to put others first in making sure they were taken care of - just like family. Many times you would see him offering up his own personal 1991 Silver Miata to a customer who did not have transportation home from a recent service and he ended up driving the poorly-running company truck back home. Through this compassion and love for others, he established long-lasting friendships, mentorships and partnerships for years to come around the world: traveling annually to Road Atlanta, Braselton; Deals Gap, NC; Las Vegas, Nevada; Cologne, Germany; Tokyo, Japan and other exotic locations as the RSpeed business continued to grow.
Aside from customers and the shop, Joe's immediate family was everything to him. Absolutely everything. Was a proud father, loving husband and animal lover all rolled into one. Having to run a full-time business with customers required a lot of his attention, but he always prioritized time for Marlene and his kids. Joe was very involved with Markus, Sebastien and Alandria in school and each of their passion areas. Joe always supported his children academically and would love spending time with them helping with school work and attending a school event - sometimes with minutes to spare having stayed late to finish a repair and driving to their school with the control and confidence that his 1991 Miata performed with flawless execution. Each of Joe's children had a unique bond with him. With Markus, music was front and center with Joe helping him develop his guitar proficiency and to this day, helping him transition him into a very talented young musician. Sebastien loved to play basketball and Joe loved to help out with his coaching as well as being his life coach by always lending an ear and helping guide Seb into the young adult he is today. Alandria (the youngest) was special for Joe....she is extremely talented creatively and this really drew Joe in quite a bit. At any time, you would find drawings by Alandria of Joe's favorite Anime characters taped inside his car. Or they would spend time together watching Japanese Animation on screen while Joe played his guitar as the background music. One of the last things in his life that he was so happy about was seeing Alandria finally ride her bicycle after many attempts with his support. One can only imagine the smile on his face, a tear in his eye...as she finally got it and road off into the waning summer sun just setting over the neighborhood. His kids completed him and he relished the moment when he came in from a long day at the shop with little hands and hugs all over. They brought Joe happiness and it was happiness that Joe only wanted for each of them. And at the end of each day, Joe must have felt that it was this happiness that he experienced as a child and was now a special gift only a father could unconditionally give his three amazing kids.
Joe's family, friends and colleagues are so incredibly heartbroken for his loss and many of us will feel an immediate emptiness in the sadness that surrounds us for his passing and the brave fight he displayed. Many of you know Joe was a fighter and he never backed down to any task before him. More importantly, Joe would want all of us to remember all the amazing memories that he was a part of - sometimes creating those memories with each of us or simply being there for us at a special time in each of our lives. Some of us will remember all the advice he gave us (especially to us finicky Miata owners) and others will remember a touching conversation where he provided that "Papa Joe" sagely advice that he was so known for in his rich life. Joe will always be a part of us....will be part of our long-lasting community and the love and life lessons he provided will endure on forever in our hearts.
Until we meet again Joe, within the comforting rays of the Lord's sunshine...and hopefully with the top down and a winding road that goes forever on and on...
Joe is survived by his wife Marlene Alfonso; his children, Markus, Sebastien and Alandria; a number of beloved cousins, aunts and uncles; and his adored pets - Rowdy (RIP), Ronnie (RIP) Holly the Boxsy, Antonio, Mia and Silvie.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (https://www.stjude.org/) in Josephs name and in his memory. This organization was very close to Joe's heart (and Marlene's) and one that he actively donated to in his later years. He knew there were others in need and was active in supporting this organization.
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