Joseph Emery Legg Jr., 91, of Anamosa, passed away on Sept. 22, 2019, with wife Esther, family and friends by his side. He was born on May 22, 1928, in Buckingham Township, in Tama County, near Traer.
He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Emery Legg Sr., his mother, Pearle Angeline Crawford Legg, and his brother, John Wilbur Legg.
Joe is survived by his wife, Esther; his daughters, Juliann and Janice; sons, David (Theresa) and Dean (Teri); as well as seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Joe is also survived by his sister, Carol Dee Zeigler, sister-in law, Dorothy Legg, and special friend of the family, Eric Stein.
As a youth, Joe grew up on a farm near Hudson and graduated from Hudson High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and animal science from Iowa State University in 1949 at the age of 21.
Joe was married to Esther Lucille Held on Sept. 18, 1949, and this year marked their 70th wedding anniversary. She literally was the love of his life. Joe met his lovely bride at Iowa State University. They met at the ping pong tables in the Memorial Union at Iowa State University and crossed paths again as members of the ISU Marching Band. He asked her to the homecoming dance and a romance developed.
In 1950, after a year as Youth Assistant in Benton County, Joe moved to Anamosa and became the Jones County Extension Director. He loved his work and most of all the farmers that he served. He especially enjoyed working with 4-Hers at the Great Jones County Fair. After 36 years, Joe retired in 1986.
Joe was on the Anamosa City Council for four years and served as mayor, completing a term for an open position and then serving two terms in the late 1960s and 1970s. Among other accomplishments, his legacy was as the catalyst for the development of the athletic fields and tennis courts around the Anamosa High School track and football field.
He was the longest-known member of the Anamosa Rotary Club (66 years), was a member of Anamosa United Methodist Church (70 years) and a member of the Masonic Lodge.
Joe continued to work after retirement, primarily as a volunteer. He never stopped sharing his talents. He and Esther made seven work/mission trips with the United Methodist Church in Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
Dr. Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner, asked Self Help International in Wavery to take one of their Self-Help tractors to Ghana. And in turn, Self-Help requested that Joe lead this program. Joe and Esther went on seven trips to introduce the farm mechanization and Quality Protein Corn (QPM). QPM corn was developed by Dr. Borlaug and contains a higher protein level which was needed to improve nutrition for Ghanaians, since corn is their primary food source.
Joe and Esther did many other trips for the U.S. State Department through ADCI/VOCA and Winrock International, the first being to Ivory Coast in 1991, then on to Russia, Bulgaria and Poland where he assisted in privatizing farming after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They went to Uganda to assist with restarting their State Fair and Mozambique to set up Coops to sell fertilizer.
In recent years, he once again focused on his family, church and community. Inspired by his experiences in Ghana, he hosted several Milk Can Dinner parties, using a repurposed milk can to slow cook a meal in an open fire pit on the back patio. He always valued his friends and family. Food was always the centerpiece of gatherings.
Those who know Joe, will remember his wholesome humor. He made a room light up whenever he entered, making each and every person, friend or stranger feel welcome and special. He lived a productive, rich and rewarding life serving his community, eastern Iowa and the world. He and Esther raised a family that strives to do the same.
Visitation will be held on Sept. 27, 2019, at Goettsch Funeral Home, 306 E. First Street, Anamosa, IA 52205 from 4 p.m. to 7pm. The memorial service will be held on Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. at Anamosa United Methodist Church, 201 S. Ford Street, with interment in the Riverside Cemetery, Anamosa. A meal will follow at the Lawrence Center at 600 E. Main St. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Jones County Endowment Fund at Iowa 4-H Foundation at 1259 Stange Road, Ames, IA 50011-5360 or iowa4hfoundation.org, Self-Help International at 207 20th St. NW, Suite A Waverly, IA 50677 or at selfhelpinternational.org or Anamosa UMC.