Joseph "Joe" Munson Jr. '60 July 24, 2023 10:16 AM updated: July 24, 2023 10:28 AM
Joseph Underwood "Joe" Munson, Jr.
September 14, 1937 - July 2, 2023
Joe Munson passed away peacefully on July 2, 2023, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born September 14, 1937, in Brazoria County, the son of Joseph Underwood Munson, Sr. and Ruth Anna Horn Munson. Growing up on the banks of the Brazos River he was surrounded by siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends he would remain close with his entire life.
Joe’s family was among the early settlers of Brazoria County having received a land grant from Stephen F. Austin in 1828, a heritage of which he was immensely proud. Throughout his life Joe remained devoted to his roots in Brazoria County possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of his family’s history, as well as the history of the area.
Joe attended Angleton schools, graduating in 1956 from Angleton High School, as both an exceptional student and standout athlete. He participated in 4-H, helped with the family cattle business, and was a three-sport athlete lettering in football, basketball, and track & field.
He was recruited by Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant to play football at Texas A&M, where he was a three-year letterman and afterwards a student coach of the freshman team, an experience he always remembered with great fondness. Many of Joe’s teammates remained his closest friends for the rest of his life. While at A&M, Joe proudly served four years in the Corps of Cadets and excelled in the classroom, earning honors and memberships in Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, both national engineering honor societies. After graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Joe was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, eventually obtaining the rank of captain.
Upon his honorable discharge from the Army, Joe began his career with Tennessee Gas living in Monroe, Louisiana, and Dallas. He married Alice Olivia Ford of San Antonio in February 1969 and shortly thereafter the couple moved to Houston to start their family. In Houston, Joe first worked in real estate, eventually joining Oliver and Laughter Equipment Company in 1976 as a partner. Joe loved his work, his colleagues, and the challenge of solving problems for customers, all of which contributed to the success of the company. At his retirement celebration in 2015, his colleagues lauded him as an exceptional intellectual resource, a calm steady hand, and a whole lot of fun.
Olivia & Joe were active at St. Philip Presbyterian Church for many years with Joe serving on the Session, as an Elder, and as a beloved Sunday School teacher to the children in the congregation. In later years, he and Olivia were members of St. Francis Episcopal Church and enjoyed their time there as parishioners. Joe was, in life and in all the ways he served, a man of quiet but unwavering faith.
Joe’s greatest joy was being a father and grandfather. Always present for his four children, he coached sports, helped with countless hours of math and science homework, taught them to drive with a somewhat laissez-faire approach, listened when they needed an ear, encouraged them to do their best, supported their dreams, and celebrated their triumphs. Pops, as his eleven grandchildren called him, was a fixture in each of their lives. He attended concerts, plays, birthday parties, grandparents’ days, graduations, and sporting events for them all creating individual special bonds. His steadfast love, encouraging words, valuable insights, soothing presence, and hilarious anecdotes will be missed daily.
Forever appreciative of the opportunities the institution afforded him, Joe was a lifelong supporter of Texas A&M. He remained an active participant of the Lettermen’s Association, The Association of Former Students, and The Twelfth Man Foundation. He loved attending Aggie football games and reminiscing about his days as a student and player.
Above all else, Joe was a man of integrity, patience, humility, strength, tenacity, and great faith. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Laura Jane Cooper.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Olivia Ford Munson; his daughters Kathryn Adkins and husband Leigh; Joanna Rissmiller and husband David; Elizabeth Whitehead and husband James; and his son, David Munson, and wife Susan; as well as his adored grandchildren Will and Mary Kate Adkins; Olivia, Ford, Thomas, Andrew, and Teddy Rissmiller; Claire and Graham Whitehead; and Ruth and Eleanor Munson. He is also survived by his brother, George K. Munson, and wife Margie; brother-in-law Eddy Cooper; sister-in-law Patsy Holmes and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to thank his lifelong friend, Dr. Parry Lauzon, a consistent source of strength and wisdom, for helping Joe and his family navigate his illness this last year. We would also like to thank Joe’s cousin and friend from childhood John H. Munson; Dr. Kristina Little, Dr. Jeffrey Lee, Dr. Kirk Heyne, the staff of the 21st Floor Infusion Center at Methodist Hospital; as well as Bobbie Rochelle, Sheila Maxwell, Erick Montoya, Stephanie Rogers, and Blanca Rubio for their kind and attentive care which allowed Joe to remain at home.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, August 11 at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 345 Piney Point in Houston, with The Reverend Stuart A. Bates and The Reverend Richard H. Elwood officiating. Immediately following the service, friends are invited to join the family for a reception at The Forest Club, 9950 Memorial Dr., 77024. A live stream video link for the service will be available https://vimeo.com/event/873905
The family will gather for a private burial at the Munson Family Cemetery in Bailey’s Prairie, Texas.
For those desiring, contributions may be made in memory of Joe U. Munson, Jr. to Class of 1960 Aggie Rings for Veterans program at The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University. Gifts can be made at tx.ag/60Ring, please designate Joe Munson in the comment box; Columbia Historical Foundation c/o Betty Blackmon, 706 Blair Street, West Columbia, Texas 77486 - please designate Underwood House; or St. Francis Episcopal Church, 345 Piney Point, Houston, Texas 77024.