Joe was the fifth of six children born to the late Silas, Sr., and Sarah Catherine Young. He was preceded in death by his siblings, Bertha, Charlie, Bessie, Silas Jr., and Thomas. His passing closed out this generation of Youngs.
Ann “Pauline” Young, Joe’s devoted wife of more than 60 years, preceded Joe in death in 2017. They raised a daughter and a son.
Joe never dodged hard work and did whatever was necessary to help his parents and support his family. He gathered wood chips as his first daily chore and quickly graduated to bringing in the wood and coal. At the age of 12, he picked green beans earning ten cents a bushel. Many days he spent ten cents of his dollar earned for a bottle of pop and a cake. He left high school at the age of 16 to supplement the family’s income by working for the Norfolk & Western Railroad repairing tracks. Most of the work Joe performed manually was mechanized years later.
He was drafted into the Army in 1951, a few months before turning 22. He served his two-year tour in the engineering center at Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia, training to build pontoon bridges and then explode the bridges.
In 1953, Joe returned to Elliston and the same job with the railroad. Joe’s railroad foreman encouraged him to find a job offering better opportunities and requiring less strenuous labor. Joe took the advice and landed a job at the Salem Veterans Administration Hospital as a nursing assistant where he remained for 42 years.
During his tenure at the VA Hospital, he earned numerous awards including the Unsung Hero Award, the Employee of the Year Award, seven superior performance-outstanding awards, four special achievement awards, a quality-step increase award, and a commendation for 40 + years of service in 1992.
On a part-time basis, Joe manually unloaded tractor-trailer trucks at several food distributorships for 35 years, retiring at the age of 79.
Joe was committed to active and ongoing participation in organizations touching the lives of his family and him. This activism included service as president of the Elliston-Lafayette Elementary School PTA and the New River District Planning Authority, and as a lifetime member of the First Baptist Church of Elliston where he served on the Trustee Board and in other ministries.
Joe and Pauline were fondly known as the church’s mother and father since they were the oldest couple in the church, and Joe was often referred to by many as Uncle Joe. He was a member of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia, St. John’s Lodge #35, for over sixty years.
Joe was a jovial person who enjoyed talking to everyone he met. He never met a stranger. His favorite pastime was sitting on the front porch, waving to everyone and talking with anyone who stopped to say “hello.” Joe’s jovial personality and his community activism earned him the unofficial title of “Mayor of Elliston.”
Upon his second retirement, Joe stepped up his volunteer service by taking part in the Montgomery County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. His activism in the Montgomery County Democratic Party resulted in his meeting former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder and shaking former President Barack Obama’s hand during a campaign stop in Roanoke. He also served on the Meadowbrook Museum Board of Directors until his health declined.
With the exceptions of military service and the time in assisted living, Joe spent his entire life in Elliston, living in the house he was raised in and then in another house he bought at age 16.
Rejoicing in a life well lived and cherishing the Joe’s memory are a daughter, Viveca (David) Ware; a son, Donnovan (Melissa) Young; grandsons David, Douglas, Dexter, Donnie, and Derrick; three great-grandchildren, Julian, Quentin, and Leila; one brother-in-law, James (Lucille) Saunders; two sisters-in-law, Augustine Saunders and Susie Saunders; and nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and neighbors. Joe was respected, loved and appreciated by many.
God extended His richest blessings to Joe by surrounding him with individuals and organizations committed to providing loving care, friendship, and medical expertise. The family is grateful for these blessings and extends sincere appreciation to Visiting Angels Darlene Witt and Sue Davis; the staffs of The Oaks at Richfield, the Good Samaritan Hospice, Visiting Angels, Dr. Jeffrey Todd, and Dr. George Smith, Jr.
Joe instilled the values of excellence, responsibility, education, perseverance, respect for all, and activism in his children and his grandchildren. He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will be continued by his children and grandchildren. May he rest in peace.
Funeral services were conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2021, at Simpson Funeral Home 5160 Peters Creek Road by the Rev. Paul Andrews. Interment followed in the Elliston First Baptist Church Cemetery. The family received friends one hour prior to the service. Arrangements by Simpson Funeral Home. (540)366-0707.