Joseph Stivers
(1923 - 2010)

Joseph Stivers

Texas, United States of America

Texas, United States of America
April 18, 2010

Joseph Arthur Stivers, beloved patriarch of the Stivers family, peacefully departed this life on Sunday morning April 18, 2010, at the age of 86.

Joseph was born to Frank and Gladys Stivers in Houston in 1923. He graduated from Central High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma and received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.

He served his country with honor during WWII in Europe and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in action with Patton’s army in Germany.

Joseph was a successful businessman, partnering with an associate to form their own company representing larger corporations in the oil field equipment industry.

His private retreat with cabin and lake in the woods of East Texas provided the perfect location for many happy family gatherings.
Joseph is survived by son David and wife Ella; grandson Paul and wife Allison, granddaughter Anais and husband Wolfgang, grandson Patrick and wife Jennifer; and great-grandchildren Jacob, Ashley, Brooke, Lucas, Walter, and Eva.

A memorial service will be held at St Thomas Episcopal Church, 4900 Jackwood, Houston, TX 77096 on June 4, 2010 at 11:00 am.

Please visit this website again. It will not be complete for several months, and until everyone can light a candle or post a story. Please contact me for help posting pictures.
Thanks, David

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Guest Book (7 entries)
David. I am so sorry to read about your fathers death. Catherine and I were wondering what had happened to him. You can connect with me at
Jane Penn Click
June 28th, 2015

I truly wish that everyone could have an Uncle Joe. If so, the world would be a better place. If you could gather the other stories of Joseph Arthur Stivers and bundle them together with those reminisces of my own, then my guess is that you would have a good start at The Great American Novel. My stories of Uncle Joe, however, are told much through the eyes of a boy and of a young lad. My appreciation of him is that of a grown man. These recollections are my own. I share them in hopes that he will not be forgotten.

Joe Stivers was a lifelong, true and loyal friend to my parents, Red and Margie Coulson. Perhaps I should say they were such to him. So it was that I was born into a family where Uncle Joe was there from the start. And thus, so was David.

Uncle Joe and David were part of the regular crew of “family” who went to my parents’ weekend get away on Lake Houston. Much of the engineering and carpentry work for our early ramshackle shelter was done by Uncle Joe and the other fathers while we boys formed hunting parties and actively pursued poisonous snakes and armadillos or tried our best to build a tree house of our own.

Uncle Joe and David were water skiers. Once we all had sufficiently mastered the art of skiing, Uncle Joe threw us a curve by bringing a “discus.” It was a 42 inch piece of circular plywood, painted white. We had to learn all over again. But we got to where we could stand on and ride it behind the boat well enough and turn 360s and maybe a 540 degree turn before the leading edge submerged and you hit the waves. Uncle Joe showed us how it was all done.

I remember David’s beagle dog Bonnie. And of course there was Mrs. Axley and her famous ice box cookies. Uncle Joe would bring them in an old coffee can from the 1950s or 1960s which he kept just for the purpose of safely transporting those tasty treats. It was plaid with a plastic lid. The cookies were carefully placed in wax paper.

Uncle Joe brought many “first times” into my life. The place in the country was a prime staging ground for many of these firsts. The first time I ever wore a seat belt was in his Rambler station wagon. My first (and last) ride on a dirt bike was up at the country on the logging roads. My first time to really fish for bass was up there too. My first time to shoot clay pigeons was with Uncle Joe. My first time to build a barbed wire fence -- Uncle Joe. Not just any fence, but one with sturdy wooden fence posts centered at carefully measured intervals with evenly spaced metal posts in between. It was a four strand fence as I recall. And for those of you who are fence connoisseurs, it had stays in between all the posts. This was truly a barrier to just about anything. The fence was my first time to work a come along, use a fencing tool and learn not to holler too much when the hammer missed the mark just a bit. Uncle Joe also introduced me to the job of using the tamper -- a long heavy iron rod used to hard pack the dirt back in the hole around the fence post. And if you think the tamper was tough, Uncle Joe also had a posthole digger which did the opposite of the tamper and required just as much mental determination and physical exertion to accomplish the task at hand.

My first time to drive a tractor -- Uncle Joe.
My first time to ride a three wheeler -- Uncle Joe.
My first time to plink at turtles -- Uncle Joe. These weren’t good turtles. They were bad turtles.
My first time to go bull frog gigging -- Uncle Joe.
My first time to pop popcorn over an open fire -- Uncle Joe.
The first time to catch a bull snake -- Uncle Joe. We let it go.

I remember the daytime fishing trip out into the Gulf to catch kingfish. Uncle Joe provided the boat, the tackle, the bait and the know how to get out and back safely. He also had sympathy when I got sea sick. He provided a kind word now and then, but that was about all he could do 20 miles offshore.

As I became older, Uncle Joe shared some of the stories of his days as a combat soldier in WWII. He would repack his pipe, light it and pensively puff on it as he began to regale about his part in history. He did so not just with me, but also with my family. He made an unforgettable positive impression on my son Gavin. My daughter, Audry, upon hearing of his death, recalled that she would willingly take a nap at my mother’s house just so that she could be rewarded with stories from Uncle Joe when he came over for an afternoon visit and a stout bourbon and water.

Uncle Joe was in D-day plus 37. He recalled hearing his commanding general speak and said this man frightened the hell out of him. The general was George S. Patton, Jr.

Uncle Joe swore he was the only man to ever fire one round from a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun when it was set on full automatic. It was a night patrol approaching a farm house near the end of the war. It was in Austria. He stumbled in a hole and somehow the weapon discharged only one round. This was much to the anger of his squad leader.

Uncle Joe was wounded in the war and had a large scar on his knee and leg to prove it. He was hit by fragments from a bomb dropped by a Messerschmitt 262 -- the first ever fully operational jet aircraft. He said his unit never heard the approach of the jet as it was flying so low and so fast. The man in front of him got far worse and was killed. It is Uncle Joe’s recollection and tale of the aftermath which is what was so interesting.

He was wounded seriously and had to be taken to the field hospital near the rear lines by ambulance. The standard protocol treatment of the day was to take sulfa tablets and drink a quart of water. He was given a shot of morphine and was loaded up in an ambulance with other seriously wounded soldiers. They were stacked three or four high on each side of the ambulance. The trip back was down dangerous, difficult and crowded roads for many hours which continued into the night.

He was conscious much of the time. The man above him continued to hemorrhage blood which accumulated and then trickled down onto Uncle Joe. He was able to talk to the driver during the ride. This turned out to be a good thing as Uncle Joe related that the most painful sensation during the experience of being wounded was dealing with the quart of water that had made its way, every single drop, to his fully capacitated bladder. The bumpy roads just added to the
misery of this awful experience. As I recall, he pleaded with and convinced the driver into stopping the ambulance so that he could be taken out and tilted while still on his stretcher to let gravity and nature mercifully bring some relief.

As we all know, Uncle Joe made it through surgery and rejoined his unit. He came back home after the war and finished his engineering degree at Purdue University. I still remember the Purdue blanket on his bed up at the house in the country.

Uncle Joe brought over a captured standard issue 8mm Mauser German Infantry soldier’s rifle and showed it to my wide-eyed son who sat still and listed to Uncle Joe’s every word. He was even more impressed when he learned that Uncle Joe used it to shoot a deer years after the war. This was “cool” to an 8 year old boy. Uncle Joe explained how the bolt action mechanism worked. Gavin kept his seat and did not ask once to touch or hold the rifle while Uncle Joe was speaking. He seemed quite spellbound at the story being told.

Uncle Joe spoke of his phase as the owner and rider of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It was short lived as I recall and seemed deliberately without much in the way of details.

The country house provided challenges and adventures. It was advertised as “52 acres and a path.” The path led to an outhouse, which though unique, was not custom built. It had spiders in the summer and was certainly drafty in the winter. It had the hood from a 1937 Chevrolet as a roof.

Uncle Joe used his engineering and practical experiences to just about conquer all challenges the country place offered. The first thing you had to do once you got the house opened up was to prime the pump so that you had running water. This required knowledge of plumbing and hydraulics. The tire on the tractor had a slow leak. Uncle Joe had a pump that allowed you to remove one of the spark plugs and use the compressed air from the engine cylinder to pump up the tire. This required knowledge of mechanics, how to read a tire gauge and how to properly “eyeball” a tire regardless of what the tire gauge read.

Uncle Joe built a skyline over the lake. When the first one wore out, then he built a better one. That thing was a hoot.

If something broke, then Uncle Joe would set about fixing it. He was not complacent with the status quo on many things. Projects such as building sheds, fences and the like were analyzed and methodically mastered. Uncle Joe would also add some artistic flair into a project if he could. He built a bellows from plywood, nogahide cloth, tacks, rawhide and sheet metal. The thing worked great and lasted for many years.

Uncle Joe was the consummate engineer. His philosophy was: An ounce of abstraction is worth a ton of application. Those of us who knew him could not help but notice his approach to problem solving. An example from my own life is when we built a new pier at my parents’ lake house in August 1977. We waited until the summer dry spell lowered the level of the lake. We had most all of the useable pilings from the old pier still sticking out of the ground. They were just in the wrong place. The problem was how to get them out. Digging was my first and only option. Enter Uncle Joe. He just chuckled. We went to my car and pulled out my jack and tire iron. He found a sturdy piece of wood with a broad base and a length of towing chain. He put the wood on the ground at the base of the post. He wrapped the chain two or three times around the post and hooked a chain link onto the jack stand. Then he told me to hold on to the chain and start jacking. The post came out. Uncle Joe used that engineering mind and simple tools to piece together an effective and efficient system which saved me a lot of digging in the summer heat.

Uncle Joe was a reader. I recall the countless old issues of Popular Mechanics at his home and up at the country. He always had a book next to his chair. He never let his mind become inactive.

Uncle Joe was an adventurer.
Uncle Joe was a problem solver.
Uncle Joe was a learner.
Uncle Joe was a teacher.
Uncle Joe was an outdoorsman.
Uncle Joe was a builder.
Uncle Joe was an engineer.
Uncle Joe was a story teller.
Uncle Joe was a reasoner.
Uncle Joe was a soldier.
Uncle Joe was a father.
Uncle Joe was a friend.
Uncle Joe was a Patriot of war.
Uncle Joe was a Patriot of peace.
Uncle Joe was a Hero.
Uncle Joe was an American.
Uncle Joe was a believer in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I am sure there are many more things about Uncle Joe that will come to mind in the days, months and years to come which I have not written down. They will provide pleasant and treasured memories from good times gone by. But to his family I say that you should not weep the passing of this fine Gentleman. You should stand tall and be proud! His blood flows in your veins.
Pat Coulson (Friend)
June 2nd, 2010
Uncle Joe, you were always there for me and my family, recording the events on your camera. You left a great legacy, wonderful memories, and you will never be forgotten. I will always think of you as so kind and generous. Are there beaver and squirrels in Heaven? Keep in touch. Eenie
Eileen Callaway (niece)
April 29th, 2010
My deepest sympathy goes out to David Stivers and his family. Joe Stivers was a big part of my life as a child along with my families. This man was one of the most giving,caring, loving men you would ever want to meet. He always had open arms to anyone that needed help in any way. My family and I celebrate his life and everything that he accomplished in his life from being a Father, friend to all and outstanding gentleman. God Bless Him and his family! Deepest Sympathy, Roxanne L. Kluger Keeton
Roxanne Kluger Keeton (newighbor)
April 29th, 2010
By the middle of July the invasion had progressed to the point where it was our turn to go.

We moved in convoy from Camp Sennybridge in Wales to the port of Southampton on the south coast of England. One memory of this trip was passing the place where a German buzz-bomb had hit a little earlier, a still-smoking crater in the ground. After some wait, all of our trucks, jeeps, equipment and us were loaded aboard the liberty ship ”Harold T. Andrews”. Since we had to sleep on the deck, we were fortunate that the weather stayed dry.

We sailed the next morning as part of a large convoy protected by Navy Destroyers and Corvettes. Each ship in the convoy had a barrage balloon floating overhead, tied by a steel cable, These were to discourage strafing by the Luftwaffe. There was a lot of air traffic overhead, and almost all of it was ours. A corvette dropped several depth charges, but we had no way of knowing whether the target was real or was damaged.

Our vessel dropped anchor off Omaha Beach about nine o’clock in the evening. The enemy airforce showed up several times that night, and were met by a great deal of machine-gun fire and flak. A sky full of tracer bullets makes you think of the forth-of-July. The next morning all of the Battalion’s vehicles were offloaded on to barges, and we followed by climbing down rope ladders. As we drove off the barge, we were moved quickly away from the beach to our assigned plot in a field surrounded by the famous hedgerows of Normandy.

Job one at this point was to dig a foxhole, and everyone went at it right away. Incentive to do this was provided by the sound effects of artillery fire from time to time. We had to change locations several times in the first week, and driving around in the area was educational. If you passed a GI lying in the ditch and he gave you an arm signal, he was telling you that that stretch of the road was under artillery fire and to get on past in a hurry. There were many dead horses, cattle, and a few civilians lying around. The stench seemed to be everywhere.

After about a week of inactivity, we undertook our first effort to set up a flash base and locate some enemy artillery. My crew was to occupy the steeple of the church in the village of Marigny. This steeple was already occupied by a very large bell that didn’t leave much room for us. When you bump a steel helmet against a six foot diameter, one ton bell, it makes an incredible amount of noise. After we had been there for only a short time, the enemy artillery began shelling the town and one round hit the roof of the church below us. This was the first time that I felt like they were shooting at me personally, my baptism of fire. I found it a most unpleasant experience.
Joseph Stivers (Self)
April 27th, 2010
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""The difference between a teacher and a mentor, is that a mentor is interested in our soul." Robert A. Johnson Thank you for being a mentor and showing me many ways of life and how to live. We will miss you. James Michael McLarty"
James Michael McLarty
June 4th, 2010
"God Bless and keep you and thank you for being there for both my brothers, Chip and James Michael. Loved the frog legs they always brought home!"
Dale McLarty McLeod
May 5th, 2010
"Thank you for always being such a wonderful Mentor for all of the children that had the Blessed Opportunity to have had you on their side. You will always be in our hearts. Bless you always! Go fishing with Jimmy!"
Roxanne Keeton
April 29th, 2010
"i will miss you,thank you the teachings of life as i grew to become a man Chesley McLarty III ( Chip )"
Chip McLarty
April 28th, 2010
"Rest in Peace, thank you for the wonderful life you gave us."
David Stivers
April 20th, 2010


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