Joseph (Joe) L. Isbell of Brownwood, 61, passed from his earthly home to his heavenly home on Saturday, April 11, 2020, after a two-month struggle with various health issues he just could not overcome.

Joe was born on Nov. 24, 1958, to Paul J. Isbell and Jimmie L. Michaelis Isbell in Brownwood. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Early. He attended schools in Brownwood, and was involved in the local Comanche Trail Council Boy Scouts program for many years. He graduated from Brownwood High School in May 1977.

He entered the U.S. Navy under the delayed entry program on Oct. 31, 1976, and then went into active service July 14, 1977. After completing basic training and hull technical school in San Diego, he went to his first command in Holy Loch, Scotland, aboard the USS Holland. He was aboard the Holland two years and aided his ship in getting two of the three battle efficiency awards. After leaving the Holland in August 1980, he reported aboard the USS Saipan in Norfolk, Virginia where it left in August for six months deployment in the Mediterranean. While serving in the Navy, he got to travel to numerous places in Great Britain and other parts of Europe, such as Spain, Italy, and even various ports in Africa.

Upon completion of his service in July 1981, he returned to Brownwood and began working at Superior Cable Company for several years before he injured his back. He then worked at various jobs, such as at Wall Moulding in production and shipping, he was a census taker, a hunting guide and cook for exotic hunts in central Texas and south Texas, worked auctions for Diamond C Auctions, and was an entrepreneur selling various products from his webpage.

He was also good at flipping burgers and stocking shelves at Hohertz Grocery in Priddy, was the cook at Mills County Commission sale barn for a while, and finally a merchandiser for various companies, traveling around Texas setting up displays and scanning inventory. In each of these jobs, he never met a stranger, and could carry on a conversation with virtually anyone.

He had a big heart and even bigger smile, loving to make others smile too with his jokes and pranks. He loved entertaining children, even becoming Santa for the family Christmas gatherings when his son and nieces and nephews were small, and he was the Santa at Priddy ISD Christmas parties for several years. He loved to spread joy to all those he encountered and always had a story to tell.

He loved the outdoors, especially being able to hunt and fish, and he loved playing dominoes and card games, especially Skip-Bo, where he was a champion strategist. He loved gardening, having his own vegetable garden when he and his family lived in Priddy. He was a great handyman, being very inventive in figuring out how to “fix” things, sometimes with very unconventional methods. In these last years, he found a love and a talent for painting rocks, handing them out to friends and family, and giving cactus arrangements out as gifts. After he became an amputee, his Saturday outings with Kathy always had to include a trip to Kroger, and then Aldi, after Kroger left. He loved going to the various dollar stores and Hobby Lobby where he shopped for his “rock painting” items and cactus arrangement supplies. He loved his dogs, Sugar the Chihuahua and Lucy, the adopted lab. He even played the harmonica with the dogs “singing” to the tune. They were all three quite the entertainers!

On May 17, 1986, he married Kathy Hohertz, in Priddy and the only child born from this union was their son, Jarrett J. Isbell. In 1987, Joe and Kathy moved to Priddy, where they lived until 2009, when they moved back to Brownwood.

Joe is survived by his wife, Kathy Isbell of Brownwood; his son, Jarrett Isbell of Austin; his aunt, Diane Michaelis of San Angelo; his brother and sister-in-law, Billy and Sharon Isbell of Bel Air, Maryland; his sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Ron Arnett of Georgetown; his sister-in-law, Diane Lee of Fort Worth; his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Lee Wayne and Karen Tiemann and Kevin and Sharron Hohertz of Priddy; and numerous nieces and nephews and their children, and many, many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Jimmie Isbell; his brother, Jimmie Lee; his sister, Dorothy Ferguson; and his uncle, Leo Michaelis; and many others in his family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be given to the Wounded Warrior Project or Zion Lutheran Church, Priddy, Scholarship Fund, or to your favorite charity.

Condolences, memories and tributes can be offered to the family online at