Joe David Upchurch, 79, Carbondale, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Monday, January 11, 2016, following a courageous struggle with ALS.
He was born in Galatia, Illinois on May 22, 1936 to Dolly (Jones) and Joe Upchurch. He graduated from Galatia High School where he played basketball and made friends and memories that would last a lifetime. Joe attended Belmont College in Nashville on basketball scholarship, and later transferred to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he earned a degree in Business Management. He owned Upchurch Insurance Agency in Carbondale and other entrepreneurial ventures, most recently Upchurch Investments. He proudly served his country in the United States Army.
Joe married the love of his life, Ann Marie Raney, on October 21, 1977. He was a loving and caring man who enjoyed spending time with his family, especially going on road trips with them. He also enjoyed going to the gym to workout and staying fit (although he could never resist a Hershey bar), watching basketball (specifically The Boston Celtics during the Larry Bird days) and Mad Money’s Jim Cramer on CNBC. Joe felt some of his proudest accomplishments were marrying Ann and adopting Kristy, his career as an Entrepreneur, obtaining his license as a commercial pilot with instrument and flight instructor rating, and his college basketball scholarships.
Joe is survived by his wife, Ann, his daughter Kristy (Denny) Hawkins, granddaughters Lilia Rushing and Nevaeh Hawkins, godchildren Brittany Cook and Derrick Raney, sister Joni (Jamie) Duane, sisters-in-law Dorotha (Jim) Reynolds, Linda Cook, Betty Jo Raney, several cousins, nieces and nephews. He had a special relationship with his cousins, Mike (Sandy) Jones. Both parents preceded him in death. He was especially close to his maternal grandmother, Edna Jones, whom he affectionately called “Mom”.
A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at Walker Funeral Home on Poplar Street in Carbondale, with the Reverend Gaylen Holden presiding. Visitation will be immediately before the service from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. at the funeral home. It was Joe’s wish that his body be cremated. There will be no burial. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Hospice of Southern Illinois for their support in his final days. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois or to the ALS Association. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.