Mr. Joe Wilford, of Long Neck, passed away peacefully at home on Thanksgiving Day with the love of his life, Liz Lindsey, present.
Joe was born to Roger Ferdinand Berte Leon Dequick in Brussels, Belgium, on June 3, 1935. After serving one year in the Belgian Air Force as a driver, Joe studied music at the Royal Academy of Music in Brussels and took private guitar lessons from his mentor, Jo VanWetter.
Upon graduation in 1955, he signed onto a radio station and did recordings and live performances, including live shows with Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. Joe played lead jazz guitar in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and a year in Jordan from 1965 until 1966, where he played in various venues including King Hussein’s Palace with a band from Spain.
After Joe left the Middle East, he lived in England for a few months, then moved to Washington D.C., at which time he married and had one child, Nancy Wilford-Abramson.
While Joe was in Washington, he opened his own restaurant and lounge called the BOCA JO and entertained audiences from all over the world. He also played at the Shoreham Hotel for dozens of well-known artists, including Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Toots Thielmans, Gladys Knight, Petula Clark, Johnny Mathis, George Benson, Dionne Warwick and many others. Joe also had the occasion to play for Billy Eckstine at the Playboy Cub in Baltimore, and claimed Billy had the best singing voice in the business.
Music was Joe’s whole life and he played with many local jazz combos, big bands, orchestras, live TV, country, and rock and roll: but jazz was king in Joe’s musical world. He deeply admired guitarist Jim Hall from New York and had occasion to meet with Jim at his home.
Joe was beloved by many people because he was the epitome of class and European style, generosity and genuine friendship. He also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed many happy times with people from everywhere. Most of all, he loved his partner of over 30 years, Liz Lindsey, his beloved home in Long Neck and his kitty cats.
He leaves behind a sister-in-law Maureen Cloutier; stepdaughter Frances Cordell, her husband Gregg and their daughter Mary Cordell and Joe’s son-in-law, John Abramson. Joe was predeceased by his mother and father Germaine and Omer Dequick of Brussels, Belgium. Any donations should be directed toward your favorite animal rescue.
A celebration will be announced at a future date.
Arrangements are in the care of Eastern Shore Cremation and Funeral Service, 504 Franklin Ave., in Berlin. To send condolences to the family, visit easternshorecremation.com.