You didn’t want to be on the other side of an argument with Joe Battipaglia.

Not that he was intimidating, though his 6’7” height and 300-pound frame could scare many an NFL quarterback into retirement. Joe was actually soft-spoken and gracious—a “gentle giant,” as many have described him since.

But his intellect was razor-sharp, and he relished a good debate. At Money Shows, I moderated many panels in which Joe was a participant. He always stated his views clearly and eloquently and he had very deep insight into the workings of markets and the economy.

Even when you disagreed with him, he made you work harder to come up with better arguments to make your case.

Yet, to my recollection, he never resorted to slogans or personal attacks; he argued strongly on the merits, rather than demeaning people who happened to disagree with him.

In the video studio, where I interviewed him often, he was unfailingly sharp and cooperative. “Whatever you want to talk about,” was his favorite phrase, and it reflected a genuine and rare humility in a field that is known for the opposite.

Maybe it was because Joe grew up in the New York City borough of Queens, the only child of a city sanitation worker and the first in his family to go to college, according to CNBC.com.

He was also devoted to his own family. Nothing gave him more pride than his son Jeff, a star offensive tackle at the US Naval Academy. But Joe was just as proud of Jeff’s future service to our country as he was of his performance on the football field.

Joe was much too young to go, and his death leaves a gap even bigger than his outsized presence in life. I will be one of many who will miss him, and I’m sure many will join me in sending our deepest condolences to his family.

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