Cover photo for Joseph Anthony Walsh's Obituary
Joseph Anthony Walsh Profile Photo

Joseph Anthony Walsh

June 25, 1937 — May 9, 2022

Joseph Anthony Walsh

Joseph Anthony Walsh

June 25, 1937 – May 9, 2022


Joseph Anthony Walsh, age 84, died on Monday, May 9, 2022 at Birchwood Cottages in North Mankato.

Joe was born on June 25, 1937. He grew up in Peekskill, NY with his older brothers, Edmund (“Pudgy”) and Johnny, and his sister, Donna. He remained close with two foster brothers, Barry and Michael.

He discovered his passion for tennis at an early age after teaching himself to play. He went on to play varsity tennis at Peekskill High School, where he was the number one tennis player and, during his senior year, the first PHS tennis player to qualify for the state championship. In 2013, he was recognized for these accomplishments when he was inducted into the Peekskill High School Hall of Fame. Joe also played Junior Davis Cup tennis representing Westchester County.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in chemistry from Springfield College, where he also played tennis, and his master’s in physical education from the University of Oregon. After teaching high school chemistry and coaching tennis for several years, Joe was invited to Ireland to coach tennis teams in various parts of the country. He traveled to Ireland in 1963, igniting a lifelong love of the Irish people, pubs, and countryside. Over the next 35 years, he spent as much time in Ireland as possible.

Joe married Margie Baxter in January of 1966 and together they had two children, Michael and Kelly. He served as head tennis coach at the University of Minnesota from 1966 to 1971 and, due to the success of his teams, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. In 1971, the family moved to Brockport, NY where Joe taught human performance at SUNY Brockport until 1977.  While at the University of Minnesota and SUNY Brockport, Joe spent his summers working on his Ph.D. in motor learning from the University of California at Berkeley. 

After completing his doctorate, Joe and his family moved to Mankato, MN where he served as department chair and taught sport psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato until his retirement in 2007. Joe was a beloved professor, fondly remembered by his students for his devotion to teaching, his sense of humor, and his messy office. During his time at the university, he also worked with many athletes and sports teams, applying his knowledge of sports psychology to enhance their performance.

Joe and Margie divorced in 1979 and remained close friends until Margie’s death in 2008.

In 1997, Joe married Anne Blackhurst and became a loving stepfather to Anne’s son, Evan. Joe was Anne’s biggest fan and took great pleasure in supporting her career. In 2011, they moved to Moorhead, MN where they lived until 2017.

In the final years of his life, Joe lived at Oak Terrace and Birchwood Cottages in North Mankato, where he charmed the staff and enjoyed regular visits from daughter Kelly and his grandkids. He received excellent care from many devoted staff members, including Angula, Stacy, and Amanda.

Joe’s defining characteristic was his generosity. He was known for giving generously of his time, his money, and his sense of humor. His door was always open and more than a few of his current and former students ended up at Joe’s house when they needed a place to stay. Even after Alzheimer’s stole most of his memories, Joe’s impulse to give freely of whatever he had was as strong as ever.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Pudgy and Johnny, and first wife, Margie.

He is survived by his sister, Donna Walsh, San Antonio, TX; son, Michael (Vivie) and grandchildren, Waylon and Nabila, Bali, Indonesia; daughter, Kelly (Dale), North Mankato, MN; wife, Anne Blackhurst, Moorhead, MN; stepson, Evan (Paige) Blackhurst and grandchildren, Elle and Beckham, Tulsa, OK; granddaughter, April (Peter) Skramstad and great-grandchildren, Zoey and Sully, North Mankato, MN; grandson, Tyler (Ashley) Weise and great-grandchildren, Jack and Veda, Inlet Beach, FL; and granddaughter, Erin, Mankato, MN.

The family plans a celebration of life in August 2022 and asks that donations in honor of Joe be directed to an organization that supports Alzheimer’s research.



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