100 Year Tribute
A One Hundred Year Tribute

Joe Gregg
 August 19, 1900 - May 19, 1962 

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One hundred years ago today my grandmother gave birth to a son whom she named Joe, for his father, Joseph Gregg. This event made it possible for a group of people in the year 2000 to be the composite and individual people they are. We are grateful to this simple country lady who loved God, her husband, her children and her grandchildren.

Her fifth son, Joe, my father, was not well educated. He was not rich, nor was he famous, but he was loved, liked and respected by many. From his mother he learned to cook, so he opened a restaurant. From both parents he learned to work hard, respect others, be honest and authentic. These two Kentucky parents gave him a large family: aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and even grandparents and a great grandmother who he knew till he was 14.

Growing up in a close knit family and a small community, early on he learned to value family as well as friends. He learned about animals, how to ride horses and love dogs. Many years later, on a small ranch outside Salinas, California, he owned the horse he rode in the Monterey County Sheriff's Posse, and a champion dog he entered in competitions.

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At age 19 Joe married my mother, Mildred Payne, his older brother's sister-in-law. Neither of them was old enough to marry without consent, so they eloped. Getting married in Lexington December 29, 1919 was no problem, and their license is made out for: Joseph Gregg, Jr. age 22 and Mildred Payne age 21. If you can change your age why not change your name a bit also?

Joe and Mildred lived in Ohio till Mildred got so homesick for Arkansas that he chucked his job and moved to Benton - close enough to visit his in-laws, just not every day! Mildred's cousin, Thelma, visited often on the weekends, and kept the only known pictures of this time in their marriage.

In Arkansas Joe worked on bridges, his lifelong passion, which probably came from hearing of his older brothers' work with their father. Later he worked on the
"bridge of all bridges" (his opinion) -
during its construction and for
several years afterwards.
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Like many others, jobless during the Great Depression, this was a time of upheaval - for individuals as well as families. Joe went to California, without Mildred and the kids. Mildred chose the security of her father's house in Little Rock - a decision she regretted the rest of her life. This decision changed everything for Joe and his children. Eventually Joe and Mildred divorced, Joe remarried, one child moved to California to be near him, and Mildred moved to California to be near her (me). But before that, Joe's trips to Arkansas, though never frequent, were, never the less, important. Perhaps the most memorable for me was the year I graduated from high school. He didn't tell me for sure that he'd be there, but arrived in time for all the events! The next day we drove north for a short vacation in Fayetteville and Kansas City with Boyce and Burns.

joeinark_thm.jpg - 3912 Bytes

Two years later he picked me up in Kansas City and took me on my first tour of the West. From Iowa to Nebraska, through Wyoming and Idaho, the tip of Washington and the whole of Oregon. Finally, San Francisco, the Golden Gate and on to Salinas. Then he bought me a train ticket to Chicago on the Santa Fe Chief so I could finish my college course at Wheaton. He was proud of all his children, their educations and their accomplishments. He valued "schooling" - but never seemed in the shadow of those who had it.

Joe Gregg valued honesty, individualism and common sense. He valued happiness and freedom, politics and the right to vote - he never missed an election, and NEVER voted Republican. These values, and many of his friends and siblings, were part of his life till his sudden, accidental death at 61. He was part of our lives much, much longer. His legacy lives on.

click here - Joe at Jo's wedding

More of Joe's Family

Jo Thiessen