Joseph Russell York, 82 of Blue Ridge, TX passed away on January 4 at Skyline Nursing Center in Dallas, Texas. Joe was born in October of 1940 to W. R. and Naomi York in Royal Center, Indiana. His parents were traveling evangelists and singers, and much of his young life was spent traveling and sometimes singing with them. He was an only child but was close to his numerous cousins. He was especially close to his cousin Billy, with whom he liked to cause mischief, most often with his cousin Margie as the target of their pranks.
He didn’t really ever grow out of the mischief-making and was fond of regaling his kids with stories of his exploits—everything from nailing a friend inside a wheeled box and sending him down a steep hill (no one was injured) to stacking wet newspapers inside the doors and drains of a college dormitory shower room to create a swimming pool. It’s all fun and games until someone kicks out the side of the improvised swimming pool. It's undetermined if anyone ever figured out who was responsible for the flooding of that dormitory floor. His daredevil activities did sometimes end in injuries for him, and through his life, he pretty much used up all of his “9 lives.” Later in life, he would count up his various surgeries and hospital experiences (about 29) with pride. Recently, when his orthopedic surgeon asked if he had any metal anywhere in his body, his children were rather surprised that the answer was “no.”
In 1961, he managed to catch the eye of Teresa Luanne Ping, the granddaughter of his Sunday School teacher and in June of 1963, they were married. She had no idea what she was getting herself into, but she stuck with him through 58 years of marriage. He was a lucky guy. When Joe had a semester remaining to complete his degree, he got a job in Kansas City, Missouri and they moved to a house on The Paseo. It was while they lived there that their first two children, Sherra and Kerra were born. Later when the family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, Darren and Terra were added to the family.
Joe held a variety of jobs over the years, and the family moved often, living in several cities across the Midwest. Many of the jobs focused on telecommunications and photography, including owning his own photography studio and working on films and still photography. He was instrumental in the creation of the film Gateway to the West, which was shown for decades at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and he even took pictures of the first Space Shuttle at Edwards Airforce Base before many people even knew what it was. For four years, he pastored a small church in Selma, Indiana, where he may be most remembered for falling on the church roof while trying to clean the eaves—and then asking Teresa, while the Firefighters were loading him into the ambulance, “Did you take an offering?”
While in Selma, he attended Ball State University, where he finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Radio & Television, Motion Pictures, then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Radio & Television. Later he worked for the Kansas Fish and Game Commission in Pratt, Kansas as a wildlife photographer and videographer. While in Kansas, he often hunted with friends from Fish and Game. He never shot an animal with a gun—only his camera. He would still often bring home deer or ducks given to him by his friends. Sadly, he never managed to learn that the family bathtub is NOT a place to store your deceased waterfowl, even for a few minutes. While in Pratt, he also had his own radio show, York’s Gospel Sing. It was quite popular and impacted many lives through the music. He also taught Humanities at Pratt Community College, often dressing as characters from history and literature and becoming one of the most popular instructors on campus.
In 1990, he returned to Olivet Nazarene (now University) to work in the Audiovisual Department but moved to Wylie, Texas in early 2000. While in Wylie, he filled his retirement driving a bus and acting as a security guard for multiple school districts in the area, as well as working as a chauffeur, transporting many minor celebrities throughout the Dallas area. These activities fit in with his outgoing personality, and he enjoyed meeting all sorts of people. From a friend he had known since living in Kansas City, he learned the art of bookbinding. He started a custom bookbinding service in the garage, restoring and recovering old Bibles and other books. Of all the jobs he had, this seemed to be the one he loved best. In the last decades of his life, his favorite activities were bookbinding and collecting things. . .cars, action figures, coins, vintage toys, Avon bottles, Mason jars and cereal boxes??? Yeah, cereal boxes.
Actually, his very favorite thing was talking about his grandkids and going to their games, concerts and plays. He had 12 grandchildren, but always counted them as 14, including two spouses into the mix. Everywhere Joe went, he made friends, and all of those friends heard about his grandkids and great grandkids. He will be missed, and it's pretty certain that Saint Peter has had to send at least one angel out to keep Joey and his cousin Billy from making trouble again.
Joe is preceded in death by his wife Teresa in 2021. He is survived by his children Sherra (Todd Temaat), Kerra (Russell Sims), Darren (Barb) and Terra (Shannon Mathers), as well as his grandchildren Erich, Austin (Kayla), Isaac, Ashlyn, Lydia, MaryEmma, Moise, Anna, Tyler (Marilyn), Collin, Garrett and Kylie, and great grandchildren Dallas, Kason, Alethea, Alex and Daxton.
Visitation will be held at Charles W. Smith and Sons Funeral Home in Lavon, Texas on Monday, January 16, from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm with a graveside service following at Lake View Cemetery in Lavon.