Joseph Edward Gifford, 89, of Paxton passed away at his home surrounded by family on Friday, April 13, 2018.
Joe was born four miles north of Paxton on Aug. 18, 1928, the fourth child of Ray and Clara (Tilse) Gifford. He grew up north of Sarben, along with his six siblings, Evelyn, Eldon “Bus,” James L. “Jim,” John H., Eben W. and Lila.
Joe graduated eighth grade from District 40, north of Sarben, and years later received his GED in 1971.
Joe worked on the family ranch until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1951. He served in Korea from May to September of ’51, and then was wounded in action. He spent the next 15 months recovering in a hospital.
By January ’53 Joe was honorably discharged and had received a Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, and Pacific Theater Medal along with other medals of commendation.
Following his discharge Joe returned to the ranch where he continued working until 1959. He later worked odd jobs for Brownie Wamsley, the VFW Club in Ogallala, and Swedes Bar and the Conoco Station in Paxton before going to work full-time for the Lawler Farm and Ranch, southeast of Paxton, in ’62.
He eventually worked part-time then completely retired from the Lawler ranch in 1997.
On Sept. 23, 1961, Joe was united in marriage to Judy Nelson in Julesburg, Colo. The couple was blessed with five children, Jerri, Kathryn, Cynthia, Teresa and Mark, and raised their family on the Lawler farm.
In 1996 Joe and Judy became homeowners when they bought their home in Paxton and had lived there ever since. They were married for over 50 years when Judy died in 2013.
On Jan. 11, 1998, Joe was baptized as a Child-of-God at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Lodgepole. He had a strong faith and loved his family.
He was a life member of the Paxton American Legion Post #303, VFW, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and since 1998, was a member of the Sons of the American Legion. Joe had twice served as the American Legion Commander and was Membership Chairman for many years. He was also Commander of D.A.V. Chapter #34 and was the D.A.V. District Adjutant. Over the years, Joe had received the Legion District Horse Collar Award and the Legion Citizenship Award.
Joseph leaves behind his children, Jerri (Jim) Morris of Holt, Mo., Kathy (Brian) Scusa of North Platte, Cynthia (Randy) Hartsuiker of Big Springs, Teresa (Mike) Morland of Paxton, and Mark (Teresa) Gifford of Lincoln; 19 grandchildren and step-grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren and step great-grandchildren; sister, Lila Lewis of Columbus; mother-in-law, Gladys Nelson of North Platte; brother-in-law, Stan (Roseann) Nelson of Longwood, Fla.; sisters-in-law, B.J. Aldrich of Chadron, June Gifford of Grand Junction, Colo., Hazel Gifford of North Platte and Margaret Gifford of Paxton; and other family.
Along with his wife, Judy, Joe was preceded in death by his parents; sister and brother-in-law, Evelyn and Walt Gentner; brothers, Bus, Jim, John, and Eben; sister-in-law, Peggy Gifford; and father-in-law, Fred Nelson.
Cremation was chosen. Inurnment for Joseph and Judy will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 20 in Fort McPherson National Cemetery with military honors. Memorial service will follow at noon (MT) at Trinity Lutheran Church in Paxton.
The memorial book may be signed at odeanchapel.com or from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, April 19 at Odean Colonial Chapel, which is in charge of arrangements. Memorials are suggested to Paxton Fire Dept. or American Legion Post #303.