By JAMES WEAR
I still can’t drive down Loop 332 in Liberty Hill without looking over and expecting a wave from the man who, in the 30 years I knew him, perhaps represented Liberty Hill as well as anyone.
Troy Joseph has been gone nearly three years now, passing away in July 2011 only a few short weeks after his bride of more than 50 years, Norma Faye, died. I had the opportunity to visit him a few days before he passed at his home in the Rock House community. He was weak and tired, but as the music of Bob Wills played in the background, he squeezed both wife Paula and my hands.
A lot of years separated us and our political viewpoints never quite matched up. Troy had children older than me and was proud to be a “yellow-dog Democrat.” In so many ways, he reminded me, and I’m sure many others, of our own fathers — tough as nails and and full of country expressions, including my personal favorite.
“Don’t worry about the mule, boys, just load the wagon,” he often remarked.
Troy was a third-generation Texan who spent a lifetime in construction work before a massive heart attack sidelined him. He and Norma then opened a station (where Boomer’s is now located) where he sold tires. According to his daughter, Suzy Joseph Lyon, he extended credit to families who were struggling to stay afloat. Her parents, she says, knew all about hard times and trying to raise a family on a blue-collar paycheck.
In the years I knew him, Troy became an even more visible part of the Liberty Hill landscape, as he became a fierce supporter of the fire department and an active member of the chamber of commerce. He served several terms as a chamber board member and became the lead auctioneer during the fire department’s annual barbecue. After a couple of terms as chamber president, he was extended a lifetime membership in the organization.
It was about this time that Troy, along with the late Gloria Myers, cooked up the idea of a downtown information center.
Gloria had moved her flower shop into the building that once housed Wanda’s Cafe, and paid the rent so Troy could operate an information center in her old quarters. And so, for the next several years, Troy would arrive early in the morning and provide information about Liberty Hill to anyone passing through town. He was often joined by other Liberty Hill oldtimers, including Jimmy Waterston. Waterston, of course, is one of the three surviving members of the Codger Construction Crew who developed the ballfields and other facilities at Lions Foundation Park.
Troy didn’t limit his time at the information center to simply waving to passersby and handing out brochures. He also helped launch a program where fans were collected to help those in need to keep cool during the Texas summers, and on Thursday nights, he could be found across the street at the VFW Post.
He often attended city council meetings, and sometimes signed up to speak during the public comments portion of the meetings. Seldom did he miss a Panther football game, and true to his outspoken nature, let coaches and others in the school district know that he was not happy with the Panthers donning black rather than the traditional purple and gold.
Troy’s information center was eventually relocated to City Hall.
When I think back on Troy today, two images come to mind. I can close my eyes and see him and Norma gliding across the dance floor, in perfect time with each other.
The other image is somewhat imaginary.
One Halloween, while Troy still had his information center downtown, I took several bales of hay he had out in front for decoration and stacked them in front of his door. The next day I asked Gloria what his reaction was.
“Oh, he was mad,” she said. “He was throwing that hay every which-a-way.”
I have to confess, it was a few months before I fessed up to him that I was the culprit…and I wasn’t really suprised when he leaned back in his chair and laughed. I think he might have known it all along.
Editor’s Note: Troy Joseph was a loyal reader and supporter of The Independent. His family and the newspaper annually sponsor a college scholarship in his honor for a graduating Liberty Hill High School senior. Deadline for applications is May 15.