Colleagues said he was "fit as a fiddle", and planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur for his father's memorial service. The sudden death yesterday of criminal lawyer Louis Joseph, 61, a familiar face in the State Courts, shocked them.
His wife said he became unwell close to midnight after he had gone to bed and was taken to hospital, where it was said he suffered a heart attack.
Ms Sylvia Khoo, 62, said her husband had been taking medication for diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Mr Joseph's colleague, Mr Mathew Kurian, managing partner of Regent Law, informed the court of his death yesterday as he applied for a sentencing matter handled by Mr Joseph to be adjourned.
District Judge Mathew Joseph said that he was deeply shocked and saddened.
"Louis Joseph has been a good friend of the court. He has displayed exemplary professionalism in the conduct of his cases before this court, and I have nothing but the highest regard for him," he said.
He said the court had lost a "true friend'' who was fearless in promoting the interests of his clients, while also according due respect to the court and the prosecution. "We will miss him dearly," said the judge.
Mr Joseph had appeared often in court, in particular the community court, acting for young offenders.
The Malaysian lawyer was called to the Singapore Bar in 1990. He held several jobs after that, teaching at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, working as in-house counsel in London, and for Senior Counsel Harry Elias before joining Regent Law four years ago as an associate.
At Regent Law, he handled most of its criminal matters, the most recent being the conviction of a man for unlawful stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act.
"We have lost a good friend and his departure has left a vacuum in our lives," said Mr Kurian.
Lawyers expressed shock at his unexpected death and described him as a gentleman who was always willing to help someone.
Mr Ramesh Tiwary, a sole proprietor, said Mr Joseph "always had a smile for people'' while Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan of Trident Law recalled how his friend would oblige by mentioning cases on his behalf when he was engaged in other court matters.
Aside from his wife, Mr Joseph leaves behind a daughter, Maria.
Ms Joseph, 28, a museum professional, said he was an excellent father who was always around.
"My dad wanted me to do what I like and I was interested in art, history and heritage," she said.
Ms Khoo said he was a devoted husband who loved to cook. She said they had been looking forward to the break in Malaysia because he had been working quite hard.
A wake is being held for Mr Joseph at St Teresa's Church in Kampong Bahru. His funeral is on Friday.