Polygamist Alex Joseph, who founded this tiny southern Utah town and had served as its mayor, died Sunday after a long bout with liver cancer. He was 62.
Mr. Joseph was known for his unconventionalism, which persisted even at the end of his life as he insisted his occupation be listed as "pirate" on his death certificate.While Joseph acknowledged having wed 20 women, many of those marriages were brief and one ended in divorce in 1995 after two decades. In September 1998, wife Elizabeth said she was one of seven wives, including Diane, Margaret, Leslie, Joanna, Boudicca and Dawn.
He is survived by 21 children, including 11 sons and 10 daughters; an additional son preceded his father in death. He leaves behind 21 grandchildren.
Joseph granted numerous interviews to reporters from around the globe, saying his openness to the media was payoff for a debt of gratitude stemming from a 1975 standoff with the government.
Federal marshals had surrounded his shantytown settlement when Joseph's clan tried to homestead public land. He said daily telephone calls from The Associated Press and a French news agency helped ensure he wasn't killed.
A federal judge later ordered Mr. Joseph and his followers off the parcel near Kanab. Marshals evicted the group, which eventually settled in what now is Big Water, 252 miles south of Salt Lake.
Joseph served as its mayor for three terms until 1994, when he stepped down.
Born June 24, 1936, in Merced, Calif., Mr. Joseph enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 and served two tours of duty during the Korean War. He said he had been a police officer, a firefighter and a private investigator before moving to Big Water.
A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday in Big Water.