Obituary: Joseph L. Dean

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Joseph L. Dean
1922-2017

Joseph Lowrie Dean (“ Mr. Joe”) was born October 27, 1922 in Opelika and passed away at home on February 11, 2017 after a long and happy life.   He was 94 years old.
Joe Dean was preceded in death by his parents, Sudie Robertson Dean and Augustus Baker Dean, his wife of 40 plus years, Jean Torbert Dean, and his brother, A. B. Dean, Jr.  He is survived by his son, Joseph L. Dean, Jr. and wife Kathy, his daughter Cathy Dean Gafford and husband Doug, his granddaughters Jessica Dean, Meg Gafford Beard and husband Tom, his grandson Joseph Dean III and wife Kim, and his great grandchildren Paxton Dean, Joseph Dean IV, Grady Dean and Luke Beard.
A lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Opelika, Joe attended Northside Elementary when it opened.  He graduated with the first 12th grade class at Cliff High School, where he played trombone in the band and was Valedictorian of his class .  He later earned a BS in Agricultural Economics from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now AU).  In college, he was an active ATO, continued to enjoy music and be recognized for his grades.    Having lost an eye as a child, he was not accepted for military service in World War II, but instead served his country by teaching veterans to farm.  His long business career included running the family farm at Danway and over 50 years working with his father and brother in A. B. Dean Agency, where he managed the business, was an independent insurance agent and a real estate broker for over 40 years.   The last over 20 years of his career he owned and operated Joe Dean Agency.
Dean was active in the community, giving many hours to Scouting. He was a Life Scout himself, was recognized for his many years of leadership of a Cub Scout Pack, and was honored with a Silver Beaver Award for his lifetime activities for scouting.  He also devoted many hours to helping Girl Scouts in Opelika.
After his children got older, he joined Kiwanis because he saw it as a valuable organization in the community.  When his beloved Jean died soon after he became the Alabama District Governor of Kiwanis, instead of withdrawing from service, he devoted his energies, talents and personal resources to helping the at-risk young children of Alabama.   During his over 40 years in Kiwanis, he served in all offices of the Opelika Kiwanis Club, Lt Governor of his Division, District Governor, District Young Child Priority One Chair and was twice honored as a Hixon Fellow. While Governor, he helped DHR to design a “Choosing Childcare  Brochure” to assist parents in making decisions about care for their children.  Hundreds of thousands of this brochure were distributed across Alabama.   He and Harvey Watson designed, produced and distributed a Kiwanis statewide directory of agencies with services for children, including ways to contact and help those agencies.  He also served for several years as the Chairman of the Board for the Alabama Council on Child Abuse.  He carried service for children one more step by starting a statewide organization in 1991 to help provide at-risk young children with books and caring adults to read those books. That organization, Jean Dean RIF (Reading is Fundamental) has been recognized nationally several times and has provided 550,000 at risk young children in Alabama with over 1.5 million books in their homes- for most, the FIRST BOOK in their homes.
Joe Dean was a faithful son, a loving and supportive husband , a  father, grandfather and great grandfather of the highest order, and friend to all in need–  be they people or animals, but most especially to children.   He dearly loved his family and Danway, the land and the animals on it, and made every effort to protect those he loved and meet their needs.  He was knowledgeable about and enjoyed hunting, reading, land, animals and their care, growing things,  music , local and family history,  Scouting and Kiwanis service.  He was a strong man with “ broad shoulders”,  a great sense of humor,   deep  inner strength all of his life and an outstanding father …  a person who has received a great deal of satisfaction knowing he has helped his fellow man and made the road he walked a better place—a true gentleman who will be  missed by all who loved  him.
After he closed the business and retired in his early eighties, he continued to be a champion for children, speaking on their behalf and packing books for RIF distributions.  He also found great pleasure in making annual bird hunting trips to Argentina with his son Joe and David Bayne.  Always an excellent shot, he also enjoyed some bird hunting around Danway and spending time with his dogs.
Visitation was held in the Parlor at Frederick-Dean Funeral Home on Monday, February 13, 2017 from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. CST, and in the Sanctuary at Trinity United Methodist Church Tuesday, February 14, 2017 from 10:00 until 10:45 a.m. CST.
Funeral Services were held in the Sanctuary at Trinity United Methodist Church at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 with Reverend Earl Ballard officiating.  Interment followed at the family lot at Rosemere Cemetery in Opelika.
Pall bearers were Tutt Barrett, David Bayne, Tom Beard, Joseph Dean, III, William Dean, Danny Robertson, Jack Robertson, Judge Hal Smith, Doug Vaughan, Lee Waller and  Chuck Ward.
Honorary Pall Bearers were Doug Gafford and members of the Opelika Kiwanis Club, past and present.
The family wants to sincerely thank his caregivers who helped him enjoy the last years of his life.

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