Li Chang Joseph, 75, transitioned on Monday, August 17th in New York City. He entered this world on November 5, 1944 in St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands. He was 1 of 12 children born of Abel Joseph of St. Thomas and Natalie "Patsy" Cornelius of St. Croix. He was a proud graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1963 where he took up Masonry. He would later be introduced by his uncle “Timo” (Timothy Joseph) to mechanics and so began his long, un-ending passion for the craft; reading every book and magazine he could find and enhancing his knowledge with a heavy focus on race engines. As he became infatuated with racing he himself built several high performance cars notably; a 1955 Chevy Bel Air that he called "Black Beauty". As the racing circuit began to grow in the Virgin Islands you could find Li racing at the Bovoni race track or the Airport Dragstrip. He raced to the point he would often run out of people to race.
Between 1964 – 1965, Li was hired by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Public Works where they utilized him for his masonry skills assisting in a multitude of projects building structures in the Mahogany Estate area.
On February 3, 1966, Li began his zeal of adventure by enlisting in the United States Army as (13B) Assistant Gunner for the howitzer platform. The start of this journey would carry him from his enlistment at Fort Brooke, Puerto Rico to basic training at the United States Army Training Center, Field Artillery Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The United States entered the Vietnam War March 8, 1965 until January 1973. Upon Li's graduation from training he would answer the nations call to duty and deploy into combat operations in the Vietnam War. At the completion of his 12 months in Vietnam he would receive both the Vietnam Service medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device for contributions in large scale operations in the Second Indochina War. Li would later be reassigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (DIVARTY), Fort Knox, Kentucky where he would serve the remainder of his 3 year contract. Once his contract was up, he moved back to St. Thomas where he would continue racing before deciding to move to New York City.
His journey while in New York wasn't a surprise to most who knew him as he would land a job in the Post Office as the Senior Mechanic servicing the truck fleet throughout the 5 boroughs of New York. This job would have him on call for many nights as trucks would break down and he would go out to recover them. Although busy, he never left racing alone! He eventually built a 1968 Chevy Camaro that he would race on the weekend at Old Bridge Raceway Park Englishtown, New Jersey. He won numerous trophies and prize money with the same race engine that he alone would work on.
As the family continued to grow his racing days started to dwindle, but his love of mechanics never faltered. He decided to open his own shop in the Bronx, New York where he would repair, rebuild, and service any vehicle that came to his shop. Being a mechanic for almost 50 years, he was coined the subject matter expert on all things high performance. He personally built over 200 racing engines and an array of race cars from the bottom up. Many of race cars that he built for others landed them in the championship seat at the race track.
By 2007, Li's eyesight started to decline when he developed glaucoma and ultimately retired. Not surprisingly, he was still being sourced to assist in racing projects; not even retirement could prevent him from getting is hands dirty when it came to high performance mechanics.
He is survived by his sisters: Mei Ling Joseph, Loo Fey Joseph (Venzen), Manu Hla Joseph (Davis), Nang Sein Joseph, Eling Sharon Joseph (Stokes), Linyi Shawn Joseph (Dalmida), Lili Sara Joseph, Ru Lan Joseph; brothers; Ai Lun Joseph, Jen Sun Joseph and his beloved children: Lanair Hu Shein Joseph, LaToya Bianca Joseph, Laura Lee Joseph, Lauren Denean Joseph, Lois Denee Joseph and many other nieces and nephews and close friends. Grandchildren: Laura-Marie Joseph, Aza Noor Aiken, George Peter Lucas Jr, Laya NyChell Gardner, Landyn Marcell Gardner, Alainnah Ann- Marie Schmidt, Khalijah Sun Chi Li Joseph
He was preceded in death by his brothers, Richard Waldorf Joseph and Hu Shein Joseph; his sons Alwyn Joseph and Lamont James.
Very close friends - Bernard Prince, Glen Kreiger, Myron Hodge and Wilbert Joseph, also Edward Braithwaite, Perry Donovan (deceased).