By Robert Lucke
If you are up early enough in the morning and walking or driving around Havre's business district, chances are that for the last eight years or so, you have seen one fellow day after day, season after season, walking, ever walking, up and down Havre's streets and avenues.
That would be Joe Alexander; shy, quiet, and yet one of Havre's most valuable citizens.
Joe Alexander's grandparents and great grandparents were the Saddlers, one of the founding families at Rocky Boy's Reservation.
Joe was born in Helena 42 years ago and spent the first half of his life in state hospitals. Ten years ago he moved to Havre where he has lived ever since, except for a short sojourn in Box Elder.
Now comes the good part. Joe Alexander volunteers for everything he can and does more good work than is imaginable.
Part of the list includes volunteer work for the Senior Citizens Center everyday, dishwasher for most every community dinner that Havre has, Christmas bell ringer for The Salvation Army, volunteer for the community PowWows at Rocky Boy and MSU-Northern, work for the Black Powder Club and Rodeo Club. He helps out at the Boy Scout booth during the fair. And the list goes on and on.
Then there is the walking. During Joe's travels he has found purses, billfolds, backpacks and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. All have been returned and most of the time he refuses any money for his efforts. One time he did take a Christmas present for his mother after he returned thousands of dollars worth of jewelry to a Havre jewelry store.
Or consider the time he saved a woman's life. Joe picks up the story in his own words.
"I saw a woman having a seizure by the corner of the Vet's Club early one morning. I ran and called the police and they got her to the hospital," Alexander said. "She came and saw me later and gave me a hug and said she wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me. She told me she would do anything for me."
All the walking Joe Alexander does is enjoyable -- most of the time.
"I like to see the people driving around early in the morning," Alexander admitted. "And I love to hear the birds singing. I could never hear the birds when I was in the hospital."
Not all is roses for Alexander while walking Havre's byways.
"The thing I hate worst is the winos attacking me because they want money," Alexander said, frowning.
One thing that Alexander really misses is a car. He would like to be able to travel out to Rocky Boy and visit friends sometimes without walking.
"Most of the time I just walk around to enjoy the scenery, but sometimes I have to walk just to get somewhere I need to go," Alexander said. "I hate to ask someone to give me a ride. It just isn't right."
Alexander has not always walked since he has lived here.
"When I first moved here, I was afraid to come out of my house. Then I realized it was my own fear and I had to come out. That is how I learned to get along with people," Alexander added with a shy smile.
Advice for the coming season? You bet! And any other time of year, too.
"Be nice to your fellow neighbors. Be thankful you have a place to live and family that cares about you. Always be thankful you have your health. That is more important than anything," Alexander said. "Always help your elderly neighbors do the things that need to be done. Get involved in community work and always look out for each other."
What makes Joe happy? That's easy for him to say.
"I am the happiest when I do a good job for somebody or make sure someone else is happy because I do a good job for them."
Lots of lessons to be learned from this fellow who walks the streets of Havre early every morning.