He was a competitive runner. And a competitive eater.
Joe Truini was a lot more than that, but those seemingly contradictory interests say a lot about the guy. The common denominator was "competitive."
Joe passed away July 24 — stunningly unexpected to those of us who knew him. He was Waste & Recycling News´ recycling reporter, the dude with the long dreadlocks. He was the guy who repeatedly sent in audition tapes for "Survivor." He ran in numerous marathons and participated in hamburger eating contests. He had a big smile and a huge heart.
Joe wasn´t competitive in a "I want to be better than you" kind of way. He always wanted to challenge himself. I used to think he´d enjoy Marine boot camp because it would test his limits.
But for all that determination, he was a teddy bear. And a damn loyal guy. One time I mildly chastised him for essentially not standing up for himself enough as a reporter to a bullying source. He just didn´t want to argue the point with the caller. Joe´s response to me was, "I feel bad, like I let you down."
He loved reporting on recycling. My last conversation with him — hours before his death, as it turned out — was about the proposed merger between the National Recycling Coalition and Keep America Beautiful. We planned to do a package of stories as the vote approached. He was excited and energetic talking about how the stories were progressing.
And he was excited when he called me the weekend before to tell me that, at the last minute, he decided to participate in the annual hamburger eating contest at a festival in Akron. Like the year before, my wife and I cheered Joe on and he finished third, even though he had competed — and won — the night before.
Joe died of a heart attack, shortly after doing something he loved — a long training run.
I imagine Joe would be upset that he didn´t get more time to take on new challenges. He might even think that with his sudden departure he let his co-workers down.
Joe was a great reporter, colleague and friend. He didn´t let anybody down.
Contact Waste & Recycling News editor Allan Gerlat at 330-865-6167 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Aug. 3 issue)