Joe Fenn, 87, told his last story on Feb. 26, 2021 at his home in West Columbia, surrounded by all his go-fers. Then he took one last ride on the salt grass. After losing so many life-long friends in the last couple years and taking it really hard, he’d said more often than his kids liked hearing that he was ready to go. When the time came, he wasn’t particularly ready to go “now,” but he went willingly after being greeted by his wife Mona, father Button and mother Laura, brother Preston, and all of his friends who’ve been waiting to prank and talk more bullcorn.
He leaves behind his sister Elizabeth, and his six scrawny kids: Johnny, Bill, Sue, Becky, Joanne, and Laura Kay. They’re sure to miss being told he’ll “let them” go fer a glass of water, or a tool, or whatever he happened to need at the time. And hurry up.
Pop’s nine grandchildren: John, Jennifer, Stephanie, Kenith, Scott, Sara, Katie, Allen, and Ben, who are scattered across the globe with his six great-grandchildren, will continue to listen to their parents whine about how they’d have gotten their butts whipped for swinging on the trailer gate if they’d tried it when they were little. But he’s surely happy to know that they are all willing take care of his horse, Manuel, and Mona’s beloved Joy. Joe was still working up to the point he got sick at the end of January. Every morning when he was heading out he would “let” Joy get up on the bench so he could lovingly tell her “hey mutt” and give her a pat.
Joe was a member of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Angleton. He went every Saturday, and he served his Lord with all his heart. He cared a great deal about all his friends, and would give the shirt off his back for anyone. He never met a stranger, and if he didn’t know you he probably knew your parents, all their siblings, where they lived, and what cows they had if they ever had them. And he could probably tell you something about your kinfolk that you didn’t know yourself.
The two things Joe enjoyed most in his life were what he did, and telling stories. A cowboy from before he could even walk more than one person has said that Joe had more cow sense than a lot of cows, and he was better at pairing cows and calves, including cows he’d never seen before, than anyone they’d ever met. When he was little, he started missing too much school because he would rather be driving cattle all over the salt grass country. So, he was shipped off to San Marcus Baptist Academy where he graduated second in his class. He had a chance to go on to be a doctor but chose working cows and fixing fences instead, a decision he never regretted.
Joe would say he didn’t know much, but he was good at telling folks what to do, along with how to do it. He was also quite the prankster, so some of you might ought to worry a little about what’s waiting for you when you see him again. Just make sure you close the gate behind you.
A memorial dedicated to the celebration of Joe’s life will be held on Sunday, March 14 from 1-6 p.m. Rosary at 2 p.m. This is an outside event at Live Oak Haven, 2458 County Road 5, West Columbia, Texas 77486 (enter from County Road 5). Please come and go as you are able, and share your favorite stories and memories of a remarkable cowboy.
Memorial contributions can be made to Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 1713 N. Tinsley St., Angleton, Texas 77515. Flowers sent to Joe Fenn, 34037 FM 1301, West Columbia, 77486 will be proudly shared at his service.