Joseph Edward Larson, 84, of Ottumwa, died at 6:05 p.m. November 3, 2020, at Oskaloosa Care Center.
He was born December 17, 1935, in Ottumwa, Iowa to Joseph Enoch and Clara Eugenia Larson and grew up in Ottumwa.
He was a 1954 graduate of Ottumwa High School. He married Gretchen Kathleen Vail on December 23, 1956, in Ottumwa, Iowa. Joe earned his bachelor’s degree from Bradley University in 1958, was a Bradley Letterman for the wrestling team, and belonged to Sigma Chi Fraternity. He served as an acting Sargent in the U.S. Army, stationed in Crailsheim, Germany from 1958-60 and graduated with honors from the welding course.
Joe worked at John Deere Ottumwa Works from 1958-1986, retired as a supervisor in Product Test, and worked as a consultant for many years. Joe was a lifelong resident of Ottumwa. Joe was a member of the First Christian Church in Ottumwa, Iowa and served as a Deacon, President, and was in charge of church maintenance. He also belonged to the Ottumwa Motorsports Club and was very active in auto crosses and gimmick rallies in southeast Iowa. In his early years, Joe enjoyed playing church league softball. Joe really enjoyed farming, especially putting up hay and interacting with his customers. Joe was very active with the Ottumwa and Soap Creek Rebels Saddle Clubs for many years, and was involved with Wapello County 4-H. Joe drove for Vaughn Automotive for several years after retirement. He was very supportive of Gretchen’s involvement with Amaranth, Eastern Star, and White Shrine. He was also very active with daughter Tammi’s sports, rodeo, 4-H, and horse activities, and coached various sports teams. Similarly, he was a dedicated grandpa and supported Caden in Cub Scouts, 4-H, and sports activities. Joe always enjoyed helping kids and volunteering for church and community activities.
Those left to remember and cherish “Jody”, “Joe”, or “Papa Joe,” are his wife, Gretchen Larson of Ottumwa, his daughter, Tammi Epp of Ottumwa, his grandson, Caden Epp of Ottumwa, his nephew and wife, Brian and Marcy Bennett of Ottumwa, Iowa, and great nieces, Jennifer (Chris & children Madeline & MacKenna) Brandhorst of Hudson, Iowa and Sarah (AJ, children Cohen & Edith) McElderry of Batavia, Iowa, nephew, Evan Bennett and wife Susie of Cody Wyoming, and many cousins.
Joe was preceded in death by his mother and stepfather, Clara and Edwin Bennett, his father and stepmother Joseph and Marie Larson, and his brother and sister-in-law Robert and Carol Bennett.
Private funeral services will be 1 p.m. Thursday, November 19, 2020 at Reece Funeral Home, the Reverend Ray McLaren of Galesburg, Illinois and Pastor Craig Zuithoff officiating. For those not able to attend, you may watch the service live from the Reece Funeral Home Facebook page. Those viewing the live stream are encouraged to leave messages to be read during the service. Online condolences, photos, and stories about Joe may be left for the family in lieu of the visitation.
Burial will be in Shaul Cemetery with military honors conducted by Walter B. Schafer Post #775 Veterans of Foreign Wars and O.B. Nelson Post #3 American Legion.
Limited open visitation for friends will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 18th at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Oskaloosa Care Center, Wapello County 4-H, and Heartland Humane Society.