The Quad Cities community gathered for hours at two events on Saturday to honor the recent passing of local icon 'Happy Joe' Whitty.
At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, hundreds of people packed Bettendorf's St. John Vianney Catholic Church for the funeral service. His burial at Davenport's Mount Cavalry Cemetery followed the funeral.
Family, friends, and the general public honored the life of the legendary restaurant founder and community icon. In a speech, Joe's son, Larry, cemented his thanks to his father and the community surrounding him, saying, "The other day my siblings and I were recently thanked for sharing our dad. Happy Joe. And I was kind of touched by that. I thought, how do you share a person with the community? So I was thinking back and such a gracious comment, that was given to me. And we didn't really deserve credit for it. He did it on his own. We were the benefactors of that graciousness, that kindness, that care."
Later in the day, starting at 4 p.m., the Whitty family held a celebration of life party at Jumers Casino to look to the future and continue Happy Joe's legacy. The general public was invited in for free ice cream, beer, and of course, Happy Joe's pizza.
Instead of collecting money or gifts, Happy Joe's family asked for donations to be made out to the Happy Joes Kids Foundation, the business's nonprofit that dedicates itself to helping kids with special needs.
Happy Joe's family says it was an opportunity to bring people together and hear untold stories about the man they know and love.