Joe Briley

Obituary of Joe Travis Briley

JOE TRAVIS BRILEY, 95 December 11, 1926 – February 13, 2022Joe Travis Briley was born on December 11, 1926 to James “Jim” McCarty Briley and Cora Lucille (Bliss) Briley in the family’s rural home on the bottom-land farm they share-cropped near Alexander in Erath County, Texas. The beautiful land is now part of the sprawling ranch owned by famed champion rodeo cowboy, Ty Murray.“Travis”, as he was called by his family, spent his early years on that same farm, crossing the Bosque River, the Alarm Creek and the Live Oak Creek each morning and afternoon to get to and from the one-room Indian Creek schoolhouse several miles away. He was the youngest of 4 children and that walk to school through the fields and across the bodies of water was usually quite a dailyadventure, especially on rainy or cold days. Travis walked with his older siblings, Mavourleen, Loleta and James and well as with a few cousins and friends who lived nearby. If the river or creeks were “up” the ranch foreman would usually come on horseback to ferry them across. Most times they just waded across. Much of Travis’s early moral training was delivered along those long walks by his oldest sister as she tried to keep the boys in tow. Decades later Travis and his friend, Wayne, still vividly remembered getting switched by Mavourleen at different times for mischievousness like skating on thin ice (and falling in the creek) or for experimental cussing.Life was extremely hard for poor share-crop families like the Brileys in the 1920’s and 30’s! Back-breaking farm work all year produced a meager payout only once a year, but even then only if the crop was good! Food was scarce and meat was very rare. On rainy days, Jim was on the river running his trot lines for fish (not for pleasure, but to try and feed his family). He also kept traps set in hopes of catching any animal that could be eaten or sold for its hide. One time he caught a mink and sold it for $9! You would have thought they won the lottery!! All the children were needed in the fields and to help with all the household tasks, so school attendance was not the top priority. Laundry, for instance, was a two-day hot and arduous task. The first day was spent drawing water from the cistern (or hauling it from the river in a barrel),building a fire, chopping the homemade lye soap, boiling and beating the clothes, rinsing the clothes and then hanging them on the line to dry. The second day of laundry was spent ironing and folding those clothes.Starting at about 7 years of age, Travis worked on the family farm, helping to raise mostly cotton and corn. His daily chores as a boy included hoeing cotton, picking cotton, shucking corn for the horses, slopping the hogs, drawing water from the cistern, and feeding the chickens. The Briley’s mail box was a mile away down a dirt road and Travis was given the job of retrieving the mail each day. Travis tired of that long, hot 2-mile walk each day, but he didn’t own a horse. The Stephenville auction barn had rented from the ranch owner part of their farmland to store horses and mules. One morning Travis decided to see if he could find a rideable horse among those in that group. He looked all the horses over and carefully picked out one that looked the tamest. He found a small length of old rope and fashioned a loop to put around her nose, then mounted her bareback. He said she was the best-riding horse he was ever on and he continued to ride her every day to and from the mailbox until they moved away.What little free time he was allowed was usually spent with his cousin, Joe Hugh Smith, or his friends, Wayne and LD Frank swimming, fishing or riding horses. Travis spent many hours in the fields and along the creeks and river, both working and playingand he knew the land like the back of his hand. Visiting quail hunters were impressed with his knowledge and on many occasions, they hired young Travis to accompany them and to show them where they could find the birds.During the Great Depression Joe’s dad worked as a carpenter on government-financed Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects and the family had to move frequently to go where the work was. Of course, each move meant the kids had to change schools and experience more disruptions. Most of the moves were around central Texas, but each move was a disturbing upheaval for the kids. Later, Jim worked as a carpenter on private projects, but there was still a need to move frequently. In 1943 the family moved to Dumas, (in parched west Texas), then later that year they moved back to Erath County. By that time Travis had had enough of the constant moving. He was also itching to join the war effort.At the same time, World War II was roaring. Many of the local young men had eagerly joined the armed forces to fight, and Travis longed to join, also; but he was still too young to legally sign up. Travis’ older brother, James, was already serving in the Navy and Travis was inspired to follow him. 17-year-olds could join the armed forces, but only with the permission of a parent. Travis was only 16 and he began to try to persuade his parents to let him join. Finally, his mother agreed and, in February of 1944, less than two months after his 17th birthday, Travis began his basic training in the Navy.So why do we no longer use his middle name of Travis and refer to him by his first name of “Joe” now? Well, it happened very quickly and suddenly in 1944!! During Joe’s very first role–call as a sailor, the commanding officer yelled out “BRILEY, JOE!!”. Travis quickly answered “Here!” and didn’t dare correct the officer. From that day on, everyone but his family knew him as “Joe”.Following a few weeks of basic training in San Diego, California, “Joe” was immediately sent to the Sub Base at Pearl Harbor where the infamous Japanese attack had occurred just two years before. He was assigned the job of firefighter. He and his company were the only firefighters for all of the submarines, the entire military base as well as for the civilian areas on the island of Oahu. The crew slept on the second floor of the fire hall, above the fire trucks. Should an emergency arise, the firefighters would quickly awakeand slide down the fire pole (which was only a few feet from Joe’s bunk) to man the fire trucks. One fireman was always stationed very near the hall’s only telephone (on the ground-floor near the truck bays) so that he could monitor any emergency. On the day that the fire company’s group photo was to be taken, Joe was on “phone duty” and, in that photo, he can be seen nearest the building so that he could easily and swiftly reach the phone. Joe served his entire naval commitment as a fireman at Pearl Harbor until May of 1946 when he was honorably discharged.Upon his return to the states, Joe decided to live in Fort Worth, Texas. He began work at a manufacturing plant and soon met and fell in love with a beautiful young lady from Baylor county namedMary Marie Patterson. The two were married on June 29, 1951. A daughter, Donna Kay, was born in 1953 and a son, Monty Joe,arrived in 1955.Greatly due to the positive influence of his new wife, Joe began attending James Avenue Baptist Church in Ft. Worth and was greatly influenced by the ministry there. Joe soon made a commitment to Christ and began a life-long commitment of service to the Lord that continued at all his future churches including James Ave., Oak Grove Baptist, Garden Acres Baptist and FBC Hewitt, TX. Joe and Marie were model parents, not only providing for the physical and emotional needs of their children, but also guiding them spiritually. From a very early age, there was hardly a Sunday that the family did not attend church.Joe enjoyed a long career in the manufactured-home and recreational-vehicle industry, beginning in his 20’s as a carpenter on an assembly-line at Artcraft Mobile Homes, then rising to manufacturing-plant manager at several companies, and then warehouse manager of a large distribution company (United Sales). For a while he co-owned and operated a retail mobile home sales company (B & W Mobile Homes) on Ft. Worth Ave. in Dallas. During a lull in the mobile home industry during the 70’s, Joe worked at General Dynamics as a hydraulic assembler on the F-111 bomber. While at General Dynamics he spent time in London, England performing repairs on the English version of the aircraft. In 1983 Joe accepted a job with Cast Products, (a distributor of parts to the recreational vehicle industry) at their location in Elm Mott, Texas, just north of Waco. This was over an hour from their home in Ft. Worth, and, for a time, Joe drove back and forth. Finally, in 1985 Joe and Marie chose to move to the community of Hewitt, Texas, south of Waco and begin a new life there. Previous to Joe’s employment with Cast Products, the branch had been inefficiently managed and was not profitable. Joe made a number of changes, including the hiring of his former boss at United, Russ Chapell. Joe and Russ turned the branch office around, then decided to buy that portion of the company in May of 1986 and they renamed it “Basic Components, Inc.”. They continued to expand and enjoy success. Joe sold his portion of the company to Russ and retired several years later.Joe served as a men’s Sunday School teacher for over 50 years until the age of 91 and was a deacon for over 50 years, serving as chairman multiple times at Garden Acres and at FBC Hewitt. Many times the pastor of those churches would call on him for support or counsel. Joe’s service to others extended beyond the walls of his church: for several years he and Marie pulled their travel trailer around the country and donated their labor with Volunteer Christian Builders to construct much-needed church buildings for congregations who could scarcely afford it on their own. For 17.5 years, he and Marie also consistently delivered food one day a week to the needy of their community through the Meals-On-Wheels organization. We estimate that they quietly delivered over 17,000 meals during this time! Not only did they deliver the food; many times they built relationships and ministered to the folks on their routes, giving much needed smiles and hugs or assisting with simple chores in their homes.Joe was a good provider and a great father, grandfather and role-model to his two children, four grand-children and nine great-grandchildren. Gardening and lawncare were much more than hobbies to Joe. For many years Joe and Marie had a very large garden which provided the family with a tremendous supply of inexpensive and delicious vegetables, fruits and berries. Each year they would harvest the produce and what they didn’t eat right away was either shared with others or carefully canned or frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year. Joe also took great pride in his well-manicured lawn and beds and instilled these skills into his son, who later owned a landscape design and maintenance company. Whether in Ft. Worth or Hewitt, Joe’s landscape was always the most beautiful for blocks around and his neighbors always came to him for advice. Joe and Marie always enjoyed watching the birds and critters in their back yard and observing the wonders of God’s nature. He also enjoyed reading fiction books and watching the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Baylor Bears teams on TV. Joe was also an avid and skilled Dominoe player—he loved the game and he seemed to always know what his opponent had in hand. His mind always remained sharp so, even in the last sessions of Dominoes just weeks before his death, he could regularly beat his son 2 out of 3 games.Joe and Marie did everything together and were seldom apart during their 69.5 years of marriage. Marie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019 and, until her death in 2021, Joe was an incredibly faithful husband and could hardly stand to leave her side. She was moved to a memory care facility out of necessity, but he still drove there every single day and stayed by her side for 8 or 9 hours each day. Only the harsh rules of the Pandemic could keep him away.Once Marie passed away in January of 2021, Joe’s health began to fail. Perhaps the decline was hastened by depression, or perhaps he had been concentrating so hard on caring for Marie that he didn’t have time to notice the warning signals I his own body.The family would like to express our deep affection and appreciation to the many medical personnel who cared for Daddy in his final year of life. Newjavia Forbes and her entire team of patient and loving caregivers at Courtyards at River Park (now Truewood at River Park) cared for Daddy around the clock. We were guided by Dr. Quang Le, Dr. Ngoc Tran and their fabulous team at River Park Medical Clinic which includes the amazing Thao Nguyen, PA, without whom we would have been lost! Literally!! Thao was not only our expert medical advisor, but she also was our counselor and supporter. Over the last 16 months sweet Thao spent countless hours patiently sitting knee-to-knee with Daddy and on the phone with us helping us make understand illnesses and make decisions with him about his current condition;whether that was during chemo and radiation treatments for his cancer, or following one of his 8 falls (that resulted in, at different times, bruises, cuts, a broken arm and a cracked pelvis), or helping us decide when to transition to Assisted-Living and, later, how and when to start hospice. We love you, Thao!In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by: Wife of 69.5 years, Mary Marie (Patterson) Briley; Brother: James Fremont Briley, (formerly of Lovington, New Mexico); Sisters: Mavourleen Clementine (Briley) Wadlington, (formerly of Stephenville, TX) and Loleta Marguerite (Briley) Ake (formerly of of Tulsa, Oklahoma).Joe is survived by: Daughter, Donna Kay (Briley) Freels (husband Richard) of Clifton, TX; son, Monty Joe Briley (wife Debra) of Fort Worth; grandchildren, Jodi Lynn Allen of Clifton, Kimberly Renee Briley, Matthew Joseph Briley (wife Nikki) and Autumn Elizabeth Briley (partner Drew Dikes) all of Fort Worth; great-grandchildren, Briley Jaron Allen of Clifton, Rhodes Austin Shirley of San Antonio, Mathias Jay Briley, Manny Jon Briley, Naomi Rose Briley, Declan Kade Dikes, Montgomery Joseph Briley, Dalton Konner Dikes and Dakota Kyle Dikes all of Fort Worth.