Joel Davis McChesney was born on May 6, 1986 to Beverly and Dale McChesney in Big Sandy, Texas. He spent a week quietly getting his bearings, and then he was off and running and relentless. Which is lucky because he had to pack a lot into the 34 short years that we got with him.
He died on August 1, 2020 in Houston, Texas. The enormity of this loss is so daunting, that it feels impossible to describe, we are only just beginning to know its shape from the parts of us that were removed when he left so suddenly.
When he was a kid, Joel had a number of nicknames that he would probably be embarrassed to see repeated in print, but we often called him Sir Pester-Lot because bothering people was his love language. He cultivated a singular talent for annoying people. He started with his family, but then moved on to friends, drive-through workers, and random people in bars and at parties. Still, Joel could always be counted on to pilot the mattress we were sliding on down the stairs, to take a pile of trash from a shed and engineer new fan blades for Nana’s house, and to spend hours teaching his nephews to play music. Then he’d hop on the phone to architect a solution to a problem he saw in the lives of his family and friends. It turns out that he was just figuring out what makes us all tick.
He had an unexpectedly large heart, though given that he was 6’5 (6’7’’ with his man bun), it shouldn’t have been surprising. He would try to hide his sensitive side, but we saw it all the time. People who have married into the family remember Joel as the first to go out of his way to make them feel welcome. It is a rare combination of character traits to be both mechanically brilliant and an incredible social engineer. He had a talent for knowing when you were alone -- even in a crowd -- and meeting you there, making you feel that you were important and that you mattered and we’re all in this together.
Like most McChesneys, Joel was food motivated — and somewhere between all of the milk-chugging, the pizza-eating contests and the saltine nachos, he became a connoisseur of cheese. He’d use his signature dish as a universal tool to bond with his family and flirt with his girlfriend — “I’m making a grilled cheese babe, do you want one?”
Joel was fiercely protective of his sisters, known for his heart-to-heart talks with his brothers and, lately, for calling his Dad to talk about work. Then he’d answer calls from his youngest brother and filter construction-industry wisdom he learned from one down to the other.
As he grew older, he was fearless, loud and driven. He graduated from fast mattress races to fast cars and while he was generally good at judging how much time and space he had to brake -- he would sometimes forget to focus more on driving than the bowl of cereal he was fishing raisins out of during his morning commute and everything would come to a screeching halt.
He built a life full of unexpected pursuits that helped connect the people around him. He cultivated a taste for expensive fashion that his family found endlessly entertaining. But if you told him you liked his jacket - he’d take it off and wrap it around you to prove that you’d look just as good in it. He wrote a lot of music, pestered his sister to make a family band, and filled his social media with videos of his new projects. He traveled to Europe, danced with strangers and amassed a group of friends from all over the world.
Joel met Dayna Brentari in Houston. And true to form, he was a total doofus. But, after nearly a year of asking - he wore her down and we are glad he did. He was so proud of her and of the life they built together. They shared a beautiful home in the heart of Houston.
We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Joel during his time with us, among them:
~Everything is chaos, including the traffic in Houston. You should probably invest in a dashcam and relive the funniest bits with your family.
~Life is fascinating and full of unpredictable beauty, don’t forget to let your hair down and find happiness wherever you are.
~We must be kind to the people we love and to ourselves. That being of service to others is to escape the prison of yourself.
~And that you have to know that your death will happen. It will come quickly and unexpectedly and will leave everyone grasping for fleeting glimpses of you in the things you left behind. You have to let go, relax and head to the lake, flip your lifejacket over, sit in it — grab a cigarette and a beer and remember not to take it too seriously.
He is survived by his parents, Dale and Beverly McChesney, sisters Sam McChesney, Dea McChesney and her partner Marcus Hernandez, Rashah McChesney, brothers Sean McChesney and his partner Brooke Bartholomew, Shad McChesney and his wife Ashley Montague, Earlan McChesney and his wife Victoria McChesney, Kyle McChesney and his wife Cherie McChesney, And his nieces Jaclyn, Jenna and Lanie, nephews Alexander, Crake and Malachi — his partner Dayna Brentari and their beloved cat Pluto.
Family and friends are invited to a visitation on Saturday, August 8. Drop by anytime between 4-6 p.m. at the Froberg Funeral Home in Oak Park 300 Oak Park Drive in Alvin.
Joel was a warrior prince and we know that the dynamic music of his life will flow through the people who knew him and fill them with the incredible joy he felt for living. We will miss him terribly.
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