It is with great sadness and grief that we share the passing of TN Eta brother and long-time volunteer Joseph Christian. Joe joined SigEp on January 27th, 1973, and is a 2021 Sigma Phi Epsilon Exemplary Service Award recipient honoring his many years of service to our great fraternity. Joe will be truly missed. If you did not have the pleasure of knowing Joe, we recommend reaching out to one of the many brothers that knew him over the years.
Joe is preceded in death by his father Charles Christian and mother Mildred Mayfield Christian. Joseph Christian was born in Portsmouth, VA September 28, 1949, while his father was in the Navy. Joe lived and was raised mostly in Tennessee, even though his father’s Army service resulted in stays in Texas and two trips to Japan. Joe loved being an Army brat and was all boy. Joe was a lifelong Volunteers fan. He played “all sports” as his father was an NCO at Ft Campbell that umpired/coached him, his mother watched from the stands as support, and his sister was the cheerleader for the teams he played on. “It was a family affair.” Family was always important to Joe.
Joe graduated from Clarksville High in 1969. After high school, Joe went to Austin Peay and after his first quarter of college he said “that was not for me”. Later on, Joe enlisted in the Navy, serving aboard the USS Midway CVA-41 W. Division as a Gunner’s Mate Technician II where he served from 1968 to 1972. Joe had found his tribe, the family he needed, while he was away from home.
In 1972, he enrolled at Austin Peay State University and was still in the Navy reserves until 1979. While at Austin Peay on January 27, 1973, fifty years ago this month, Joe joined part of the initial class of Sigma Phi Epsilon-Tennessee Eta Chapter. While college and being a Sig p brought him many friends, the most important relationship was when he met and married the love of his life, Christy. Joe found Christy and they married in November of 1976. Together they had one daughter, DeAnn, and life moved forward with many twists and winding roads to travel.
After the chapter folded and was restarted in 1996, he and his best friend Joe Winn, were part of the “two Joe’s” with the Sig Ep Alumni Board doing Balanced Man acting as mentors to the younger brothers. Joe was the treasurer until 2019. This service resulted in Joe along with Joe Winn, being two of the four national recipients being awarded the 2021 Exemplary Service Award for a lifetime of volunteer work.
Joe was a former Mason, Shriner, and later joined the Navy Nuclear Weapons Association. Joe found through e-mail old Navy buddies that he had served with all those years ago. They urged Joe to join the NNWA where they met and had yearly meetings and reconnected with and old friends. Joe is in Heaven playing golf with a lot of buddies now and he is in a better place.
He is survived by his wife, Christy and daughter, DeAnn, who gave them two grandsons, James and Charlie, with her husband Tommy Killion. He is survived by his sister, Carolyn (Chet) Martin; Uncle Larry Mayfield(Margery), sister-in-laws Tammy Harlan, and Kimbry Woodbeck(Ray); mother-in-law, Gloria Finch; nephews, Trey Marin, Wesley Harlan (Caylee), Lucas Harlan; niece Kathy Jones(David); and great nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his nephew, C. Christian Martin.