Joe was born on November 16, 1925 outside of Tower City, North Dakota where his parents rented a 320-acre farm. Joe rode his prized Indian pony named Pet 9 miles to the town school in Tower City and was seldom late. During the Dust Bowl period, severe heat and drought led to no crops being harvested on the family farm in 1935 and 1936. At that time, Joe’s family packed their livestock, machinery and worldly belongings into two boxcars and relocated to Wisconsin where they operated a farm 9 miles outside of Portage. Joe attended the Mercellon Stone School through eighth grade and graduated from Portage High School in 1943. In 1944, Joe entered the U.S. Army and served in the Philippines. He later transferred to the Air Force and fulfilled his military commitment in Japan in 1946.
Upon returning home, Joe worked briefly as a truck driver before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the G.I. Bill. He graduated in 1951 with a B.S. in Agricultural Education and went on to teach agriculture in Poynette. He then went on to become the 4-H Agent in Oconto County where he met his future wife Helen. The couple married in 1954 and moved to Appleton where Joe served as the 4-H Agent in Outagamie County for two years. Joe and Helen then moved to Waupaca where they built a home on Shadow Lake Drive and Joe began working as a County Agricultural Agent. He earned his Master’s Degree from UW-Madison in 1965 while working and raising a young family and retired in 1984 after 26 years. One of the highlights of Joe’s career was serving as executive secretary of Farm Progress Days in Clintonville in 1978.
Following his retirement, Joe enjoyed golfing with his family and friends at the Waupaca Country Club where he was a member since 1972. Joe was a self-taught golfer whose swing defied the laws of physics. He played golf for 46 years during which time he purchased only two sets of irons but wore out ball retrievers on a regular basis. He pulled more golf balls out of the Waupaca River than anyone in the history of the club and never once purchased a sleeve of golf balls. Joe loved watching the Wisconsin Badgers and traveled to Madison to watch many games with family and friends. He and Helen attended the 1999 Rose Bowl in Pasadena where the Badgers defeated Stanford. Joe enjoyed gardening and grew vegetables which he often shared with neighbors. He took great pride in his lawn and was perhaps happiest behind the wheel of his lawn tractor where his singing and whistling could often be heard above the noise of the motor. Joe and Helen spent many years traveling to the Villages in Florida during the winter months where they played golf and socialized with friends. More than anything, Joe loved holidays or any occasion that enabled him and Helen to spend time with their children and grandchildren.
Joe is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Helen; their three children, Jenny (Jonathan) Jasper, Andover, MN; Jeff (Renee) Walker, Amherst, WI, and Kent (Julie) Walker, Brooklyn Park, MN; six grandchildren, Courtney and Casey Jasper, Evan and Ella Walker, and Madison and Lauren Walker; brother Dean (Dorie) Walker; sister-in-law Mary Walker; and many nieces, nephews and friends. Joe was preceded in death by his infant son Craig, his parents, Erwin and Ella Walker, and his brother Ervin Walker.
A memorial service for Joe will take place at First United Methodist Church in Waupaca on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 12:00 (noon), with Pastor Amy Powell officiating. Visitation will be held on Saturday, from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Joe’s name. The Holly Funeral Home of Waupaca is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at www.hollyfuneralhome.com.
The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the nurses and hospice workers at Theda Care Medical Center in Waupaca for their tender care and compassion.