Joseph Laroche was born into a powerful family. His uncle, Cincinnatus Leconte, was the president of Haiti. When Joseph was fifteen, he left Haiti to study engineering in Beauvais, France. Several years later, he met Juliette Lafargue, the 22-year-old daughter of a local wine seller. The two eventually married.
Despite having an engineering degree, Joseph's skin color left him unable to find employment in France. The Laroches decided to return to Haiti and booked second-class reservations on the Titanic. After the ship struck an iceberg, Joseph loaded his wife and children onto a lifeboat and he went down with the ship. His body was never recovered.