Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, widely recognized as “Joe the Plumber” for his 2008 public questioning of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, has passed away at the age of 49. His wife, Katie Wurzelbacher, confirmed the news on Monday.
“We are heartbroken. We’ve lost a cherished husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He touched numerous lives,” Katie Wurzelbacher said in her statement.
“By the time I met him, he was already famous as ‘Joe the Plumber,’ but he wrote something that revealed his true self to me: he was ‘just Joe,’” she continued. “He was a regular, honorable man aiming to make significant contributions to the country he deeply loved, especially after becoming a public figure for simply asking a question.”
In July, Joe Wurzelbacher revealed he had been diagnosed with an aggressive type of pancreatic cancer.
“My deepest sympathies go out to everyone affected by cancer. Despite the ups and downs, we sought to find happiness in each day. He battled courageously and is now free from suffering,” his wife wrote. “I don’t see him as having lost his fight. Because he knew Jesus, his fight was victorious.”
She added, “Joe’s final wish was to return to my family. On the first night here, he gave me a broad smile and said, ‘we made it.’ To all who have supported us and continue to do so, Thank You! Your support has given Joe peace, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”
A crowdfunding campaign on the Christian website GiveSendGo, launched several months ago to assist Wurzelbacher’s family during his health struggle, has raised $135,234 as of Monday.
Joe Wurzelbacher gained nationwide prominence when he questioned Obama about his tax plan at a 2008 campaign event in Toledo, Ohio.
Wurzelbacher, who owned a plumbing business at the time, criticized Obama’s plan as being at odds with the American dream. In response, Obama argued that the plan would actually benefit small businesses.