Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, famously dubbed "Joe the Plumber" after his encounter with then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, passed away on Sunday. His wife, Katie Wurzelbacher, verified his passing to Fox News Digital on Monday. He was 49 years old.
"Our hearts are broken. We lost a beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend. He made an impact on so many lives," Katie Wurzelbacher wrote in a statement.
"When I met Joe he was already known by everyone else as ‘Joe the Plumber’ but he wrote something to me that stood out and showed me who he truly was: ‘just Joe,’" she said. "He was an average, honorable man trying to do great things for the country he loved so deeply after being thrust into the public eye for asking a question."
In July, Joe Wurzelbacher shared that he was battling a severe type of pancreatic cancer.
It is with great sadness that I report my friend, Samuel J Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, passed away today. However sad we may be though, Joe now stands in the presence of God. Well done good and faithful servant. @RealJTPhttps://t.co/Q2uk1p1qtQ
— Jared Vallorani (@jvallorani) August 28, 2023
"My heart goes out to everyone whose lives are impacted by cancer. There are so many ups and downs but we tried to find joy in every day. He fought long and hard, but is now free from pain," Katie Wurzelbacher wrote Monday. "I don’t think of him as losing his battle. Because he knew Jesus, his battle was won."
"Joe’s last wish was to get us back by my family. The first night here, he gave me a big smile and said ‘we made it,’" his wife said. "To everyone who has and continues to support us, and there are so many, Thank You! You helped bring Joe peace and for that I will always be grateful."
Months ago, a fundraising campaign was initiated on the Christian crowdfunding platform, GiveSendGo, to aid Wurzelbacher's family during his cancer fight. As of Monday, it had collected $135,234.
During 2008, Joe Wurzelbacher, then a plumbing business owner, gained national recognition after challenging Obama at a campaign function in Toledo, Ohio. He critiqued the Democratic presidential candidate's tax strategy, suggesting it opposed the American dream. In response, Obama explained that his plan aimed to foster faster growth for small businesses.
The late John McCain, who was then the Republican presidential nominee and a former U.S. senator from Arizona, invoked "Joe The Plumber" in his campaign and later invited Wurzelbacher to accompany him on the campaign trail.
During the presidential debate on Oct. 15, 2008, between Obama and McCain, Wurzelbacher's name was mentioned over a dozen times. Later, in 2012, Wurzelbacher made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat the sitting Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur for Ohio's 9th Congressional District. He leaves behind his wife and children.
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