For Joe Hassan, working at the clothing store he owned on Sacramento Street for 60 years was his life.
“When we all had to shut down because of COVID last March, he wanted to come in,” son Eddie Hassan said. “We were open, but we tried to make every excuse for him to stay home. We would tell him we were closed, but we really weren’t. When he found out the truth, he was back in the store.”
In fact, Joe Hassan came to work every day until Feb. 6, two days before his passing. He was 87 years old.
Born Abdul Ibrahim near Jerusalem, Joe Hassan lost his mother when he was 7 months old and was forced to drop out of school as a child when his father could not support the family alone, Eddie Hassan said.
Joe Hassan worked as a farmer in Palestine until 1958, immigrating to Brazil that year. An aunt asked him to make his way to America to help her ill husband, and Joe Hassan arrived in Lodi in 1960.
His uncle owned a dry goods store in Lodi, and passed away one week before he arrived. Taking on his uncle’s name, Joe Hassan purchased the store and transformed it into the clothing and Western wear store it is today.
“He was a humble person,” Eddie Hassan said. “He came from humble beginnings, and he stayed humble his entire life. He always wanted to help people, and he instilled that in me, my brothers and sisters.”
Eddie Hassan said his father loved to give to charities, as well as his customers in need. He remembered many times that Lodians who needed clothing for work were not able to pay, and his father gladly gave them something.
“He came to this country with a limited education, but made himself into something,” son Walid Ibrahim said. “He had an amazing heart — a very big heart his whole life. He always gave to the poor, even when he was poor, and he wanted us to do the same for people.”
Joe Hassan loved interacting with customers and listening to their stories, Eddie Hassan said. While his health began to fade over the last few years, Joe Hassan would still come to the store, sit in a chair near the front door and greet all who entered.
Eddie Hassan said his father always liked to refer to himself as a “Lodi boy.”
“It’s been really hard on all of us,” Eddie Hassan said. “He loved Lodi. He came here with nothing, made something of himself and achieved the American dream.”
Growing up, Eddie Hassan said his father taught him and his siblings to work hard to achieve their own dreams. He described his father as a great and loving man who simply wanted to provide for his wife and children.
“I still feel I am light years behind the person he was,” Ibrahim said. “He provided for us and gave us the best life we could ask for. He didn’t have a complete education, but he wanted us to get the education he never had. He supported me through med school and I’m the person I am today because of him.”
The Hassan family announced Joe’s passing on the store’s Facebook page Saturday, and Eddie Hassan said the outpouring of support has been phenomenal.
As of Monday, there were 731 comments offering condolences to the family.
“I remember by grandfather and Joe always kicking back talking,” Rudy Sauseda posted. “I was a youngster at the time but I knew there was respect for both of them for each other. I would still go to Joe’s place and buy clothes and I would see him sitting there at the entrance. I am so happy his family took care of him to the end keeping him associated with the store and his legacy.”
Many commnenters remembered Joe Hassan for always having a smile and a positive attitude when they entered the store. He also loved to help customers as much as he could to find what they needed in the store, they said.
“I have been a loyal shopper my whole life,” Heather Platt posted. “When I would come in with my twin sons he would take them across the street for a candy or ice cream. One of the kindest, genuine gentleman I’ve ever known.”
Akram Joe Mashni said Joe Hassan helped his family decades ago when they fell on hard times.
“When we lost our business in 1977, my father went to him and told him if he could help us as my father was going to set up a space at the Denios Flea Market in Roseville,” Mashni said. “Joe stood at the door and told my father from the door all the way to the basement downstairs is available to you. He helped us get back on our feet. We will never forget his generosity.”
Ibrahim said his father loved Lodi and its residents, and Lodians loved him back. When not working, his father loved travel, taking many trips to Palestine and staying for two months at a time on occasion.
He added his father always had a positive attitude, another trait that was instilled into his children.
“One of the lessons I’ve continued to grow with in life is to never hold a grudge,” Ibrahim said. “He always told us to have good thoughts. Even if someone did something bad to you, just let it go. Move on. It taught us to be better people.”
Eddie Hassan said it is the family’s hope that Joe Hassan’s Clothing and Western Wear will continue to serve the people of Lodi for several decades, as it has already done for more than 60 years.
“He never forgot where he came from,” Eddie Hassan said. “He achieved the American dream, and worked hard. This store was a success because of him, and we’ll continue to do well because of him.”
Joe Hassan is survived by his wife, five children, 30 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.