Thursday, December 27, 2018

Rest in Peace, Joe Audsley

A hero has passed away.
Joe Audsley, the hero of the Ruskin-Heights Tornado, passed away on Christmas. It was Joe, along with his (late) partner, Bob Babb, who issued the Weather Bureau's first modern-day tornado warning. It was credited with saving scores of lives in the 1957 Ruskin Heights Tornado. I tell his story in Warnings (pictured above in 2010 with an autographed copy). When Joe issued that landmark warning, the Weather Bureau was not in the tornado warning business. Since then, the (now) National Weather Service's tornado warnings have saved tens of thousands of lives and the death rate from tornadoes has been cut by 95%!

But on that May, 1957, evening, Joe and Bob thought they would be fired the next day.

I first got acquainted with Joe when my Grandmother took me to visit the Weather Bureau office at what is now called the Charles Wheeler Airport (then, Municipal Airport) in downtown Kansas City. Joe eventually moved to the National Weather Service Technical Training Center in east KC where I got to know him again when I was in high school. He was always encouraging and upbeat to this aspiring young meteorologist who wanted to learn about tornado warnings from him.

Joe was married for 65 years to his wife, Lee, and I've always loved the photo of them on their wedding day.
Lee passed away in 2011.

Joe was not only the hero of the Ruskin Heights Tornado, he was the Navy meteorologist during World War II battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

There will be a visitation from 2 to 4pm Sunday at Terrace Park Funeral Home at 801 NW 108th Street (just off Highway 169 between Interstate 435 and Highway 152) in north Kansas City. He will be buried in his home town of DeWitt, Missouri, Monday.

Joe is one of those people of whom you say, "That was a life well-lived." Rest in Peace, Joe. Glad you made it to Heaven in time for this year's big celebration.

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