During his time at Wartburg studying biology and chemistry, Tuttle was also a percussionist with the Wind Ensemble and in his senior year joined the cross country team. He was especially inspired by a religion class called Reading the Bible Through Third-world Eyes, which included a two-week mission trip to Honduras. After earning his bachelor’s degree at Wartburg in 2003, Tuttle earned his doctor of optometry degree in 2007 from Pacific University in Oregon, and while in school he volunteered in the Northwest and in developing countries, bringing eye care to those who had little access.
For several years, Tuttle worked in optometry in central Iowa. His Christian faith is central to his life, and he served his church in multiple ways, from playing in a worship band to leading men’s Bible studies. Being led by eyes of faith, Tuttle moved to Oregon to work part time and attend Cornerstone School of Ministry, where he earned a certificate in biblical and ministry studies. With a heart for missions, Tuttle and his wife, Berina, then spent a year living in one of the poorest areas of Jamaica, mentoring teenagers and providing eye care to those in need.
Tuttle’s service and leadership also grew through his military service. After his mission work in Jamaica, he was mobilized for a year as a member of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps and since 2012 has served with the U.S. Army Reserves as a captain. His military awards include the Army Commendation Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
With time spent at school, in missions, and with the Army, Tuttle has lived in a variety of states and countries. He leads and serves wherever he finds himself.
“Faith is an integral part of every aspect of Joel’s life,” writes his nominator. “He has quite a testimony of overcoming hardships in life, forgiving others who have wounded him deeply, fighting for reconciliation and healing, and living in love.”
Since his Wartburg days, he also has developed as a distance runner, winning the mile in his age group at a national indoor championship in 2011. He has run in several marathons, including the distinguished Boston Marathon.
The Tuttles have three daughters. Since 2015, the family has made their home in Oregon, where he works as an optometrist and is active with professional organizations and in his church.