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Joe the Plumber, who infamously confronted Barack Obama, dead at 49 from pancreatic cancer

 August 29, 2023

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, famously known as "Joe the Plumber," has died at age 49 after battling pancreatic cancer, as announced by his family.

Wurzelbacher gained national attention during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign when he questioned then-candidate Barack Obama about his economic policies. On Sunday, his family announced that he had passed away, as reported by the Daily Wire.

Rise to fame as "Joe the Plumber"

Wurzelbacher became widely known as "Joe the Plumber" following the aforementioned 2008 interaction with Obama.

The exchange came to symbolize for many a dividing line between Obama's Democratic views and the GOP's conservative principles.

Then-Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate at that time, seized upon the moment to differentiate himself from Obama.

The encounter helped catapult "Joe the Plumber" into media prominence as a figure aligned with conservative values.

Personal life after the spotlight

After his rapid rise to fame, Wurzelbacher settled down to a quieter life. He married wife Katie and had three children.

In July 2023, he publicly announced his battle with pancreatic cancer. In a statement to Fox News confirming his death, Katie said:

Our hearts are broken. We lost a beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend. He made an impact on so many lives.

A life remembered beyond the political arena

According to Katie, Wurzelbacher was much more than his political persona.

She fell in love with him for who he truly was: "just Joe." She stated:

When I met Joe, he was already known by everyone else as "Joe the Plumber," but he wrote something to me that stood out and showed me who he truly was: "just Joe."

Facing the ups and downs of cancer

Katie also spoke about the emotional journey of fighting cancer.

She emphasized that despite the difficulties, they tried to find joy in every day. She said:

My heart goes out to everyone whose lives are impacted by cancer. There are so many ups and downs, but we tried to find joy in every day. He fought long and hard but is now free from pain.

Community mourns loss

The news of Wurzelbacher's death has led to an outpouring of tributes, particularly from conservative circles.

On X -- formerly known as Twitte -- various individuals expressed their condolences.

Writer Derek Hunter described him as an "exceptional friend." Hunter wrote:

Horrible news. My good friend Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, passed away this morning at the age of 49 from pancreatic cancer. He was a good man and an exceptional friend.

Ryan Girdusky, founder of the 1776 Project Pac, also shared his condolences, stating:

This is sad. I met Joe back in 2009 in Missouri and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

Legal challenges and battles fought

Wurzelbacher had also been involved in multiple legal battles over the years.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, highlighted that his organization had legally represented him. Filton noted:

Joe was @JudicialWatch legal client who the courts allowed Ohio state bureaucrats to abuse without consequence after they rifled through his gov’t files for his daring to ask a tough question of Barack Obama.

A fundraiser has been set up to support Wurzelbacher's family. It has already amassed more than $147,000.


  • Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, known as "Joe the Plumber," has died at 49 from pancreatic cancer.
  • He gained national prominence after questioning Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.
  • After his rise to fame, Wurzelbacher led a quieter life, marrying his wife Katie and having three children.
  • The conservative community has poured out tributes, highlighting his impact both politically and personally.
  • A fundraiser set up for his family has already raised more than $147,000.