Joe Tseng-Gill

Born: San Antonio on 12 October 1956

Passed away: Rancho Mirage on 11 January 2021

Aged: 64 years

Service Details

Sorry, due to COVID-19 we will not be having a memorial service for Joe. Please post a tribute below to share.

The Story

Joe loved life, some of his favorite things include:
* Spending time with his family, playing board games
* Vacationing in Maui
* Cruising, especially unlimited crispy bacon at the breakfast buffet
* Shopping of any kind, but he loved the hunt in second-hand shops
* Drinking Diet Coke
* Playing his piano and singing for the family
* Caring for people as a nurse
* Loving JoJo, our chubby shih tzu that passed away in November 2020
* Going fishing

* October 12, 1956, born in San Antonio and was quickly adopted by Hildegard and Joseph Gill
* Graduated from Trinity University with a BA in voice performance
* Graduated from Texas Women's University with his RN license
* Was an ER/ICU travel nurse in several cities in Texas
* Moved to San Francisco and was a nurse in SF General AIDs ward & SF County Jail, became a nursing supervisor in a nursing home, detox center for the homeless & Saint Francis hospital, and eventually an inspector for the State of California, licensing and investigating complaints in hospitals and nursing homes
* Joined the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus
* May 1998, adopted Elaine with Gerry shortly after her birth
* Received his BA and MA from San Francisco State
* Connected with his birth family
* Received his Doctoral in Management from University of Phoenix (ABD)
* August 24, 2013, married Gerry
* Transferred his job to Los Angeles, and moved so that Gerry could care for his sick father
* Transferred his job to Riverside County and moved to Cathedral City
* January 11, 2021, at 6:33 PM, passed away due to COVID-19 (4.5 weeks being sick, last 2-weeks in the Hospital, last 6 days in ICU), he fought long and hard, but just continued to decline until he had multiple organ failures, and the likelihood of recovering at all was very very slim, and if by a miracle he were to recover, he would have to live in a nursing home with an advanced oxygen system, would not be able to walk or talk.

Joe and I discussed end of life preferences since we got our first Domestic Partnership "license" in 1996. He was very pain adverse and did not want to live a severely restricted life, let alone live in a vegetative state. It was so very reassuring to know that Elaine and I were able to fulfill his last wishes.
If you do not have an advanced directive, I would encourage you to not only get one so that your family has a written document outlining your desires, but also discuss your desires with your family. If you do not want extreme life-saving interventions, doing both will save them from having to struggle with your end of life decisions and their residual lifelong guilt. Doing this is a generous thoughtful gift to your loved ones.
Joe was a very strong person, having overcome many surgeries and health issues. We had no expectation that COVID would be his cause of death. He was only 64 years old. If you are age 18 or older you should have an advanced directive. Imagine the conflict a parent feels if their adult child was in a horrible accident and having to make these end of life decisions. On one hand, they want their child to survive at any cost, but on the other knowing that doing so will more than likely result in their caring for their child in a vegetative state and costing them all of their life savings.
The form that I like is available for free from UCLA. The form is acceptable by all healthcare organizations. It should be witnessed by two people or a notary for full legal standing. But simply signed, it does communicate your desires in writing to those who have to make medical decisions on your behalf.

If we had to do this over again, before going to the ER, we would first see if any of the hospitals in our area allow for a visitor at the end of a patient's life. Most hospitals do not allow this in ANY COVID ward, or ICU. This policy was not the desire of the medical staff, but rather an administrative decision to protect them from any liability and to make their staff's job easier. It is cruel, inhumane, and uncaring of these profit-driven organization's legal advisors and administrators.
COVID is a lonely pandemic. First, we are isolated and discouraged from meeting face to face; next, if you get sick you are totally isolated at home or in the hospital; finally, you die alone with no family there to care for you, express their love to you, say goodbye to you, etc. We were fortunate to be able to FaceTime Joe's passing. However, it was brutal and a far second from being able to say goodbye in person.

Canada, China, Bahamas, Brazil, France, Grenada, Grand Cayman, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Portugal, Saint Martin, Spain, & Thailand.

IN LIEU OF FLOWERS, Joe would appreciate it if you would make a small donation to either of these organizations:

* Human Rights Campaign, a nation-wide non-profit supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community
When making our donation to HRC, please fill in their Send Notification of Gift to- Gerry & Elaine Tseng-Gill, [email protected], 35602 Tranquil Pl, Cathedral City, CA 92234

* Operation Smile, an international non-profit that repairs people born with a cleft lip and/or pallet free of charge, primarily in developing countries; Elaine was born with a bilateral cleft palate (inside her mouth), and without the repair, she could not eat enough to sustain herself.

* Elaine Tseng-Gill, his daughter
* Gerry Tseng-Gill, his husband

I will continue to update this page with more information about Joe's life. If you have any dates or details you feel should be included, please email them to me at [email protected] I would like your help in listing surviving members of his adopted family and half-siblings of his birth family.

Please feel free to write your own tribute to Joe below. Please feel free to share this page with Joe’s friends and family.
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Late Supper after Holiday Ice Show (2014)

Brandon Lee shared a photo.


Fishing Trip in Maui, Hawaii (2011)

Brandon Lee shared a photo.


Remembering Joe, we said a little prayer, "Lay me down to sleep & pray the Lord my soul to keep". He was truly a child of Christ. Here on Earth, a joy to behold... Smiles for miles & charades for every occasion. *Included is the photo we took in 2014 after Elaine finished performing her Holiday Ice Show. There we so many good memories together. We thank you for sharing them with us. We will certainly miss him... Bill Delao & Brandon Lee in SF.

Brandon Lee shared a photo.


I had the opportunity to work with Joe, and wanted to share a few of my memories of the likable, generous, fun-loving Joe I knew. The number one thing that stands out in my mind is how much he loved his family and how proud he was of Elaine. Joe was a good guy to work with. He was always down to business and a total straight-shooter while surveying, but as soon as it was time to break for lunch, "fun Joe" came to life. He would joke, laugh, and partake of a tasty meal out with the team, which always included a diet coke. The picture was taken in Santa Barbara on one such break from work. Joe had an incredible collection of Aloha shirts. In fact, it was a highlight of my workday to see what shirt Joe came to work wearing that day. He was always all-in when it came to festivities, and he had incredible costumes. I think he won most, if not all of the "fashion" contests at work parties. I know Joe really liked being a nurse, and he had great stories about working in the ER. I recall the two of us going to lunch while on survey, and he told nurse stories the entire time... which I thoroughly enjoyed. Joe lived life to the fullest, and that's what I'll remember.

Amy Kulangara shared a photo.


We will always remember the family gatherings each year from San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles. Joe had such a big heart and always carried a contagious smile. Always enjoyed listening to one of the many stories he would tell. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this very difficult time. We will miss you and may you rest in peace. Love Chad and Brittany Buthker

Chad Buthker


Enjoyed our last Thanksgiving together. Missing you all so much- hugs Gerry & Elaine.

Pam Leppi shared a photo.


Missing Uncle Joe and sending my love to Uncle Gerry and Elaine. I am thinking of all the good memories with Uncle Joe- he was always telling jokes and making everyone laugh, sharing stories, and I loved bonding over nursing together. He was an amazing Uncle and I will miss him a lot. I am so thankful I was able to see him in October in Palm Springs and ate a very yummy brunch made by Gerry together, I will always cherish that memory. He always made me feel welcome and I loved visiting ever since I was young. Love, Nicole Leppi

Nicole Leppi


Always smiling. So generous. Always with a funny picture to show or story to tell. I feel so lucky and blessed to have met and befriended someone like Joe. Supplier of diet coke, driving like a maniac and screaming each time he made a sharp turn, giggles, surprising us by speaking tagalog words, and big bear morning hugs to start our work day... I miss you, Joe.

Judith Santos shared a photo.


After Joe moved to San Francisco, in the early 1980s, just as the AIDs crisis began to take hold, he took a job at San Francisco General's 5-A ward, which was the first AIDs ward in the nation. On his first day, his charge nurse brought him into a patient's room. She asked him to sit down and hold the patient's hand. She said that you will know when it's time to get back to me. Joe sat holding the gentleman's hand, and within a couple of hours, he died. The charge nurse told him "Welcome to 5-A, you now understand what your job is, we take care of the dying, making them comfortable and feel loved. For many we are their only family, their family of birth has rejected them and their friends are fearful of visiting. In those years before there were antiviral treatments, all of their patients died. Joe learned what the end of life was like. He wasn't afraid to die but valued the joy of having a loving and caring family. His compassion for caring for the sick and needy blossomed, future jobs included caring for inmates, supporting the homeless who were wanting to get off drugs, being the nursing administrator in nursing homes and finally inspecting and licensing hospitals and nursing homes, along with investigating incidents of possible abuse of the elderly and disabled. Now you know a little more about Joe's work life and character.

Gerry Tseng-Gill shared a photo.


Dear Gerry,
I am a friend of your sister Pam. From our conversations, it is clear Joe was truly your life/soulmate. What a blessing to be so loved. My deepest sympathy and prayers of comfort are with you at this difficult time.
Syd Ogborn

Syd Ogborn