"Take care of yourselves and each other, and always remember my motto:
It’s ok to work hard, as long as you play harder."

-Joe Milligan,
in an email to his parents 7/02

Jordan Pate
December 5, 2002
12:50 AM

After reading all of your memories of Joe, I realize how fortunate I was to have spent the last year or so with him in Australia. If it weren’t for Joe, I wouldn’t even be here in the first place. I really owe so much to him. I was lucky enough to have shared the time of my life in a foreign land with one of my best friends. I always admired Joe’s easy going lifestyle and positive outlook on life. Despite his surfed out appearance and his sloth like ways, he was one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever meet. He had a creative mind that really took him places. Joe had a hunger for adventure that lead him to places most people only dream about. And his passion for surfing was a step and beyond most surfers I know, including myself. Surfing is a release from all the negatives in life which Joe really took advantage of. He always told me “the ocean has magical healing powers”, and this is made him the person he was. He was just so unique, so genuine and real, no bullshit with Joe. He was one of those magical people that always carried a positive aura... and he could pull off some crazy shit in the water too. I am lucky enough to have shared many adventures with Joe, always in some foreign land in search of perfect surf and anything we’ve never experienced before. We’ve split peaks at Hermosa, found mindless barrels in Lombok, sacrificed a 4wd in New South Wales, snapped boards in WA, called each other into the Kirra barrel machine, and have been lost everywhere in between. Each adventure is accompanied by so many stories, many of which we agreed to leave on the trip. Weve shared so many good times, a lot of good adventures, and most importantly a lot of good memories which I will cherish for the rest of my life. I get really sad when I think about him now but somehow I always end up with a smile in my face... he always had the ability to put a smile on someone’s face, even after a bad day.
Our last trip together will defiantly be one the most memorable. It was anything but the "perfect surf trip", but we made the best of it thanks to Joe.
After a solid week of bad luck and onshore winds in West OZ, Joe insisted that our luck would turn. He consistently said, “We’ve got to pay our dues bro... before we get rewarded". After suffering extensive car trouble, (which was becoming a ritual on surfing trips) in the middle of the desert, catching a serious case of bed bugs in some dodgy ass Perth Backpackers (the look on Joe’s face when the Doc told him to stay out of the water for a couple of days was indescribable), and enduring endless days of howling onshore winds, we somehow made the best of it. If it weren’t for Joe's sense of humor and his positive outlook I would have gone mad in the desert. But Joe kept the both of us in good spirits and our hopes remained high. When the day finally came, it was time to cash in on our dues. We rocked up at a perfect left point break with beautiful 6 ft sets reeling down a shallow reef with no body out. The winds were finally beginning to go offshore and it was time for us to relive our frustrations. We surfed for five hours that afternoon, or until it was simply too dark. It was one of the most memorable sessions we’ve ever had together, just the two of us in the water playing like children in perfect 6-7ft surf...calling each other into impossible sets and laughing like kids when one of us didn’t make it... "You gotta pay your dues bro" that became the motto of our trip. One day in particular, the biggest and most perfect day we had at this joint (notorious for its heavy locals and freefall takeoffs only a couple of meters in front of dry reef), the local crew was on it and after taking off on the first wave of the set, I kicked out and turned around to see everyone in the line-up busting it for the shoulder... well almost the entire lineup. Joe was breaking for the horizon, hoping to get into position for this bomb that was threatening to take out everyone in the lineup. I was thinking, "This kid has lost it"! Sure enough Joe turns on this thing with a grin from ear to ear and gives it all he’s got to get into the beast. He got into alright, but just a little late. After barely not making the freefall drop, he comes up after a scary hold-down, with that same grin on his face and a 3'6 instead of a 6'3. Joey earned a little respect from the locals that day. One local even bought Joe a drink at the pub that night.
But I think that pretty much sums up Joe's mentality, both in and out of the water. He always tried to make the best of things, looking at the positives instead of the negatives. Everyone who knew him enjoyed his presence, even the "heavy" west OZ locals.
Joe was a one of a kind... a legend. He will be missed badly, but I know that Ill never have another solo session again because he will be right beside me, calling me into the bombs, and laughing whether I make em or not.
I want to thank all the Milligan’s for their courage throughout this tragedy. If it weren’t for their strength, many of us would not know how to deal with the loss of such a good friend. Thank you for bringing such a wonderful person into this world. I hope that by realizing how many lives Joe touched brings a bit of happiness to your family after this tragedy. I also want to thank all of Joe's frineds who have kept each other strong as well and helped remember and honor Joe the way he deserves to be honored. Most importantly, I want to thank Joe for being such a great friend and being such and inspiration to my life. Ill always look up to you Joe. I hope you are enjoying your life in paradise as much as you enjoyed your life here.

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