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March 26, 2014

Joseph Allen Clement Sr.

TIFTON — Joseph Allen Clement Sr., a 40-year resident of Tifton, passed on to eternal glory Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 10:15 a.m. in Tampa, Fla., where he had been a much beloved patient at the Horizon Bay Memory Care Center By the Bay for nearly a year. Joe's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the chapel of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals, to be followed by a graveside service at Oak Ridge Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest alongside his beloved Mary Jo. Dr. W. Wayne Roe will officiate. Visitation for Joe will be held from 6 until 8 p.m. today at Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.

Joe was born April 27, 1936 in Grand Junction, Tenn., the son of the late Robert Earl and Lela Dawkins Clement,  their 11th and last child.  He was a 1955 graduate of Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tenn., where he was a multi-sport letterman and an outstanding distance runner and an Air Force Reservist.

After graduation, Joe spent a summer working as a firefighter for the United States Forestry Service in Big Bear, Calif. He returned home and mustered into the regular Air Force and graduated from Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

After graduation from Basic, he served as a Radar Repair Technician at Walnut Ridge Air Force Base, Walnut Ridge, Ark. While attending the local high school graduation ceremony in Walnut Ridge in 1957, he noticed one young lady, Mary Jo Benson, who was the class valedictorian. In addition to being valedictorian, Mary Jo also received the bulk of the awards during the ceremony. In fact, she got up from her chair so many times to go and collect her awards that Joe made the observation she should have just stayed at the platform to save time and effort.

Needless to say, this special young lady having captured his interest, Joe made the best decision of his life and pursued Mary Jo and convinced the love of his life to become his bride Feb. 15, 1958. Shortly after their marriage, Joe was sent to serve a tour at Point Barrow, Alaska, on the Defense Early Warning Line. Their year long separation completed, Joe came back to Walnut Ridge and he and Mary Jo moved down to Keesler, AFB, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

With his first tour at an end, Joe decided to muster out at the rank of Airman First Class in lieu of reenlistment and promotion to the rank of sergeant. He and Mary Jo moved to Memphis, Tenn., where he took a job as a deputy sheriff for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, and began a family with the birth of son Joe Jr. on May 31, 1960.

He then became an employee of National Cylinder Gas Company. Son, Stephen Edward Clement followed shortly thereafter, being born on March 20, 1964. In September 1967, the Clement family moved to Birmingham, Ala., where they lived till December of 1972, when a new business opportunity arose and took them to the Friendly City of Tifton.  Joe became the branch manager of the South Georgia Oxygen Service Company, which eventually became Holox, where Joe and Mary Jo were to work together as an effective team along with help of many fine, dedicated fellow employees.

Joe and Mary Jo were blessed with 45 years of marriage, when his steadfast love left this world August 5, 2003 after a brief illness.

Joe and Mary Jo were dedicated members of the First Baptist Church of Tifton, where they both taught Sunday School and where Mary Jo brought her God-given vocal talents to the church choir and Joe spent many years making a joyful noise. Their God and their church, as well as their family, were the focus of their lives and they both left an exceptional record of service as an enduring legacy.

In his later years, Joe met Evelyn Sturgis, also widowed, while they were volunteers at Tift Regional Medical Center. Joe and Evelyn were married shortly thereafter and she survives him.

Joe is also survived by Stephen and his wife Julie Cochran Clement, as well as Joe Jr. and his wife Patricia Creel Clement and their children Sarah and Connor.

Additionally, Joe is survived by his beloved sister Opal Clement Still and brothers Charles, Walter and Franklin.

Condolences may be sent to the family at the online guest registry at www.bowen-donaldson.com. Services for the Clement family are under the care and direction of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.

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Jensen Rainey (left) and Josie Arant will both be participating in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship next week in North Carolina.

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