Joe Enos, a prominent Walnut Grove resident who devoted himself to the community as a businessman, civic leader and volunteer, died Sept. 20 of a heart ailment, his family said. He was 87.
Mr. Enos, who was born on Tyler Island and spent all his life in Walnut Grove, had deep roots in the Sacramento River Delta. His family for many years owned and operated Tony’s Place, a landmark bar and restaurant where he worked after graduating from Courtland High School. In the 1970s, he went into real estate and founded Joe Enos & Associates, which served Walnut Grove and nearby communities for almost five decades.
“If you live in Walnut Grove, you know Joe Enos,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. “He was the unofficial mayor of Walnut Grove. He dedicated his life to the town. He loved the community, and the people here loved him.”
An outspoken man with a firm handshake and friendly smile, Mr. Enos rallied public sentiment in Walnut Grove to improve quality of life in the rural Delta community. He served several terms as president of the Walnut Grove Homeowners and Merchants Association, which was established to enable residents and business owners to buy and own the land under their buildings, which previously was leased.
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He worked with Sacramento County officials to secure redevelopment funds and was a driving force in the 1990s behind the development of new docks to draw recreational boaters and tourists. He served on the reclamation district board overseeing local levees and helped obtain new equipment for the volunteer fire department as a member of the Walnut Grove Fire Commission for 30 years.
“Joe was a real leader,” Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli said. “He really had his finger on the pulse of the community, coming from a family with a strong presence there and being there all his life. He was one of those guys you know who had a lot of concern for his family and the place that he called home.”
Joseph Andrew Enos was born in 1927. His father Tony Enos, a Portuguese immigrant, and mother Anna opened Tony’s Place in the 1930s and served home cooking in a warm, family setting that drew loyal customers from Sacramento, Stockton and beyond.
Joe Enos married Pat Davis in 1955 and raised two children. An enthusiastic man who enjoyed helping others, he supported the community as a youth sports coach, team sponsor and volunteer at the annual Buddhist bazaar. He organized fundraisers and ran festivals as a longtime member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.
A high school basketball player who overcame tuberculosis after graduation, he exercised daily, golfed at Woodbridge Country Club and supported physical fitness and sports activities. He opened a local fitness center, the Pump House, where he mentored young people and coached soccer, softball, basketball and baseball.
“Walnut Grove was part of his DNA,” his son-in-law Phil Benson said. “He believed in his little community.”
In addition to his wife of 59 years, Mr. Enos is survived by a son, Ron; a daughter, Stacy Benson; a brother, Manuel; three grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.
A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Walnut Grove. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Walnut Grove Volunteer Fire Department or to St. Anthony’s.