Affectionately known as “Mayor Joe” by a grateful community he truly loved, Joe Mack Jenkins passed away Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in his home surrounded by his family. The son of Kathleen and Dr. John B. Jenkins, he was born July 31, 1925 in Waxahachie, a city he would go on to serve in numerous capacities, including six terms as mayor.
A 1942 graduate of Waxahachie High School, Joe enlisted in the United States Navy, serving as a corpsman during World War II. Following the war, he enrolled at the University of Texas and became a member of the first class of the university’s newly created program in social work, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1948, and a master’s degree in 1952.
While a student at UT, he met Mary Ruth Davis of Corpus Christi, Texas. The couple wed on Aug. 6, 1949, and they remained together until Mary Ruth’s passing in 1993. They were blessed with a large family that throughout his life remained at the center of his world.
Joe often said that the greatest blessing in life was to be surrounded by family and friends, and he felt blessed to have an abundance of both.
Joe’s career in social work spanned four decades. In 1963 the family moved from Texas to Illinois when Joe was offered the position of executive director of Child and Family Service of Springfield, Illinois. In 1967 the family moved to Chicago when Joe was offered the position of executive director of Family Care Services of Metropolitan Chicago — a position he remained at until his retirement in 1988.
During his career in social work, he was the recipient of numerous professional commendations, including:
• Charter member, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
• President, NASW chapters of Lubbock, Texas and Springfield, Illinois
• Member of the First Standards Committee of National Association of Homemaker – Home Health Aid Service (established national standards that were later used to accredit service.)
• Accreditation surveyor for the National Association for Home Care (NAHC) and Council on Accreditation
• Chairman, advisory board for the Child Welfare Association of America
• Board member and President of Child Care Association of Illinois
• Chairman, Statewide Advisory Committee to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
• Charles L. Wright Distinguished Alumni Award (2000) The University of Texas School of Social Work.
In 1994 Joe returned to Waxahachie. On Aug. 26, 1995, he married Janet G. Long of Wassau, Wisconsin, and the couple resided in the Jenkin’s family’s home and both became active in the community.
In addition to his elected service on the Waxahachie City Council from 2000-2010, Joe also served on:
• Board of Directors of the Waxahachie YMCA
• Board member and President of Historic Waxahachie, Inc.
• Board member and President of Waxahachie CARE
• Board member and President of Waxahachie Foundation
• Board member of Education Foundation for Waxahachie ISD
• Board member and president of Funday School, First United Methodist Church
• Volunteer, Meals-on-Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties
• Member of Advisory Committee to the Waxahachie Senior Center
• Member of the City of Waxahachie Zoning Board of Adjustment
• Co-chair, WISD school bond election of 2006
• Member of Waxahachie Lions Club
• Member of Waxahachie First United Methodist Church.
In 1999, he received the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce’s Mabel Frame Award for his efforts in promoting the city. In 2004, he was inducted in the Waxahachie High School Hall of Fame. That same year, he was the recipient of the city’s Outstanding Citizen Award.
Wherever he was at, regardless of what volunteer capacity he was serving at the moment, Joe was a tireless promoter of his hometown and the people he was honored to call friends. His catchphrase, “I love Waxahachie, and I know you do, too” has been adopted and repeated so often it is now a piece of history woven into the fabric of the community.
Joe is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. John B. and Kathleen Bowman Jenkins; wife Mary Ruth Jenkins; infant daughter Laura Lee Jenkins; son J. Michael Jenkins; wife Jan Jenkins.
He is survived by daughter Dian Barns-Jenkins and husband Peter of Melbourne, Australia; Liz (widow of deceased son Michael) and husband Gerry O’Connor of St. Charles, Illinois; daughter Merrimac Jenkins of Austin, Texas; son Tim Jenkins and wife Karen of Buford, Georgia; step-son Craig Long of Franklin, Tennessee; step-son Brent Long and wife Sheryl of Scottsdale, Arizona; step-daughter Amy (AJ) Long and husband Scott of Reno, Nevada.
Grandchildren: Caitlin Barns-Jenkins of London, England; Kieran Barns-Jenkins and wife Katrina Hodgson of Melbourne, Australia; Meghan Jenkins Morales and husband Levi of Madison, Wisconsin; Iain O’Connor of Chicago, Illinois; Phoebe Jenkins of Plano, Texas and Mitchell Jenkins of Buford, Georgia; Cal and Courtney Long of Franklin, Tennessee; Anna Robinson, Maegan Robinson and husband Brian of Scottsdale, Arizona Milia Robinson of Scottsdale, Arizona and Ava and Leo Long of Reno, Nevada.
Great-grandchild Evaline Morales of Madison, Wisconsin.
In Lieu of Flowers, the family requests donations be made in Joe's memory to The Waxahachie Senior Center, Waxahachie Care, Meals on Wheels or First United Methodist Church of Waxahachie.
Services celebrating Joe's life will be held Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11 o'clock in the morning at the Waxahachie Civic Center. Friends and family are encouraged to gather for a time of visitation Friday, June 28, 2019 from 6 to 8 in the evening at Wayne Boze Funeral Home. Mr. Jenkins will be laid to rest at the Waxahachie City Cemetery following services on Saturday.
"I love Waxahachie and I know you do to!" -Joe Jenkins
Arrangements especially for the Jenkins family by Wayne Boze Funeral Home.