Joseph Edmond "Joe" Robertson, 95, of Brownstown, passed away on Thursday, May 2, 2013, at his residence.
Joe was born on Feb. 15, 1918, in Brownstown. He was the third and youngest child and son of Roscoe and Edith Shields Robertson. Joe was a fifth generation Jackson County native, whose family entered the county around 1800. He is descended from one of the earliest recorded marriages (1819) in Jackson County.
Joe was always aware of the many benefits he and his family gained as local residents and greatly appreciated the honor bestowed on him when he was named Brownstown's First Life Achievement Award winner.
He was thrilled to be selected with his wife, Virginia, as marshals for the 2001 Watermelon Festival Parade. Growing up, Joe had always watched parades, but had "ridden" in only one of them when he and a friend jumped on the back platform of Brownstown's No. 1 fire truck. Instead of ordering them off or having them arrested, Chief Junior Wessel appointed them temporary firemen, third class, issued them helmets and ordered them to show up as referees for the Fireman's Water Ball Contest the next day.
Joe met the love of his life, Virginia Baxter, while in college at Kansas State University. Virginia was named Miss Manhattan two times and was selected Honorary Cadet Colonel of the University ROTC unit. Joe was named the Outstanding Student in the College of Agriculture and played varsity basketball at Kansas State. At the time of his death, he was the oldest surviving letterman of Kansas State and was named a "Kansas State Legend."
Joe and Virginia married after college graduation, and shortly before Pearl Harbor, on Nov. 23, 1941 in Manhattan, Kan. Joe served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, while Virginia did volunteer service work. They were married 66 years and, with the exception of 39 months of Joe's service time, resided in Brownstown.
Joe was employed by and finally served as chairman of the 128-year-old Robertson Corporation, which was founded in the Ewing section of Brownstown in 1881. Joe was an elder and Sunday School teacher for more than 35 years in the Brownstown Presbyterian Church.
He was president and valedictorian of his 1936 Brownstown High School class, which won the "no class school" sectional.
He was involved in many community activities. He was president of the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s, when Brownstown was chosen as one of 11 "runners up" in the All American city contest and he served as president of the Jackson County Welfare Board for five years.
He was listed in Who's Who in America beginning in 1979, the same year that his wife, Virginia, was listed in Who's Who of American Women. Joe was named a "Sagamore of the Wabash" by two Indiana governors.
Both Joe and Virginia were Kentucky Colonels. Both have been members of the Circumnavigator's Club and the International Traveler's Century Club. He was an early president of Lake and Forest Club, Brownstown, and in 1974, he was the recipient of the first "Award of the Year" for outstanding service to the club. He also authored the history of the club and taught hundreds of youngsters the basics of water skiing - even into his 90s.
Joe is the author of a travel book entitled "On Kilroy's Trail." This book chronicled many of Joe and Virginia's travels around the globe. Virginia kept and supplied the notes on which the book was based and several Brownstown people helped put the book together.
At 94, he also published "Marker on Huff Creek," a fiction based on events in Jackson County in the late 1800s. He also authored a number of scientific and technical articles and co-authored a number of articles for international wood product magazines.
Despite his love for adventure and travel, which took he and Virginia around the globe three times and to 167 countries, he was a man whose heart remained in his beloved Jackson County.
Joe is survived by his son, Joe Robertson, Jr., his wife, Patricia, and his grandson, Charles Joseph "C.J." Robertson, all of Portland, Ore. Rob is president of Oregon Health and Science University and C.J. is ready to start graduate school in pursuit of a master's in public health. He is also survived by a large and close knit extended family and countless friends of all ages.
Joe was preceded in death by: his parents; his wife, Virginia Baxter; two brothers: R.S. "Dick" Robertson and Charles R. "Buck" Robertson; and one granddaughter, Kathryn Faye "Katie" Robertson.
Funeral services will be conducted 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7 at the Brownstown Presbyterian Church. Internment will follow at Fairview Cemetery, Brownstown. Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 6 and from 10 a.m. until time of the service Tuesday at Spurgeon Funeral Home, Brownstown.
Memorials may be given to the Brownstown Presbyterian Church or Joseph E. Robertson Genealogical Library.
Published in The Jackson County Banner from May 3 to May 10, 2013