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Public events planned this weekend to memorialize Happy Joe Whitty

Public events planned this weekend to memorialize Happy Joe Whitty


The public is invited to help remember and celebrate the life of Quad-Cities icon "Happy Joe" Whitty at three events later this week.

Whitty, the founder of the 47-year-old Happy Joe's restaurant chain, died Tuesday morning, Oct. 29, at age 82.

“Our family has been overwhelmed with support and kind messages about our dad," Kristel Whitty-Ersan, Happy Joe's director of marketing, said in a Monday email. "We are honored to carry on his legacy."

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, the Happy Joe's Kids Foundation (HJKF) luncheon will take place at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, 2021 State St., Bettendorf. Tickets are now sold out.

The HJKF is a nonprofit organization founded by Whitty and his family to help special-needs kids. It supports the Children's Therapy Center of the Quad Cities, Hand in Hand, and the Handicapped Development Center.

Whitty's funeral will be at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 4097 18th St., Bettendorf, followed by burial at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 804 E. 39th St., Davenport. It is open to the public.

A Celebration of Life will be open to the public from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Jumer's Casino & Hotel, 777 Jumer Drive, Rock Island. It will feature a cash bar and Happy Joe's pizzas.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation. Go online to donate at, or make a check out to HJKF and mail it to 2705 Happy Joe Drive, Bettendorf, IA 52722.

"Remember Joe with happiness. He was a bright light in our world with an unforgettable smile and a compassionate, faithful heart," says the website. "Let us all honor him by practicing human kindness every day."

"Joe was deeply loved by his family and friends, and the loss that will be felt by his passing cannot be put into words," according to a Monday email from Lisa Colgan, Happy Joe's executive assistant.

"In addition to his family, those of us who had the opportunity to work with him are without words to express this tremendous loss. He was an extraordinarily smart and accomplished entrepreneur who built a company that represents and practices the same principles he used to create and maintain Happy Joe’s for 47 years," she wrote. 

"His exceptional sense of humor, long-term commitment to Happy Joe’s guests and the people of the communities that surrounded his restaurants were testament of his unwavering desire to always do the right thing. These qualities were integral to both his personal success and the success of Happy Joe’s."


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