Surrounded by friends, family and great tunes, Joshua Phillip Watler (z”l), 35, finally kicked cancer on Tuesday August 22, 2017. With the cancer threatening to grow beyond his body to terrorize innocent people and workers’ rights, Josh sacrificed his own life to save the rest of us.
This was not his first demonstration of such bravery. Josh devoted much of his adult life to empowering everyday folks to find their voice and speak truth to power. In 2006, he and Arizona ACORN led to victory the campaign to increase the state’s minimum wage and establish automatic indexing, giving Arizona’s lowest-wage earners an automatic, legally mandated raise every single year. As the founder and executive director of Organization United for Reform (OUR) Washington, he inspired members to take direct action against the banks at the height of the mortgage crisis, leading to the Foreclosure Fairness Act in 2011, which continues to offer Washington homeowners a path to keep their house.
Raised in Nashville, TN by Jeannie (z”l), a strong single Jewish mother of three, Josh learned humility, respect, resilience and the value of hard work. These qualities served him well not only in community organizing, but in a music career spanning 20+ years, three cities and five bands. According to one bandmate, “Josh can flat-out play guitar.” He switched to hammered dulcimer in recent years, playing weekly for patients and staff at Highline Cancer Center and with his lovey of four years, Michal.
Along with his loving family, the Komisar clan, Josh is survived by countless people who love him very much, are inspired by him and whose lives are better having known him. May his memory be not only for a blessing, but a call to action to love fully, fight hard and laugh often.