Living Democracy

‘Pappa Joe’: The Man Behind the Scenes

image of Joe Friday with his wife and Alabama Senator Jeff SessionsAs the husband of Kathryn Friday (who has been mayor, high school principal and is now Marengo County Extension Coordinator), it seems that Joe Friday has little room to make his own impact in Linden.

That’s far from the truth.

Joe Friday was born in 1944, in Perryville, Ala., a place he refers to as a “spot in the road.” Friday moved to Linden in August of 1969 to work for the paper mill. He worked for Georgia Pacific for more than 40 years, but retirement hasn’t stopped him from working from dawn until dusk.

On his several acres plot of land, Friday grows everything from squash to multiplying onions to tomatoes. He’s even growing lemon trees.  Friends of the Fridays know that they can always get a bit of whatever Joe is growing, and they know that it will be good.

Friday always makes sure that people feel welcome in his home and on his property, which is how he affectionately earned the name “Pappa Joe” from friends and family.

Friday is active in both his community and his church. He’s been a member of Linden Methodist Church for the past 45 years and has been a deacon for the past 40. His pastor, Anthony Antonelli, says that Friday is a person who “does anything you ask him to,” a true servant.

image of Linden meetingFriday does everything from turning on the lights on Sunday mornings, to ushering, to volunteering at church events. Most church members would not even realize how much Friday does for them. By choice, all that he does is done with no expectation of recognition.

During his wife’s term as mayor of Linden, Friday jokingly referred to himself at the “First Man of Linden.” Today, Joe officially holds a different title: chairman of the Linden Industrial Development Board.  

For those who are unaware, an Industrial Development Board, or IDB, is created to bring jobs to the community. Brenda Tuck, executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), and Friday meet with business owners interested in locating in Linden’s Industrial Park. As chairman, Friday then takes his recommendations of businesses to the board for their approval.

Right now, the IDB is working to pave the road into the Linden Industrial Park, an addition that would encourage more businesses to locate there. Last week, Friday and Tuck presented their plans to put in a water pipe to Mayor Charles Moore and the Linden City Council.

image of industrial park sign in Linden, AlabamaMoore recommended Friday for the job. He admires Friday’s work ethic, saying that it’s hard to find people willing to serve when it’s not a paying job. He’s personally known Friday for 40 years, commenting that he’s “always been involved in the community. [He’s] always been a hard worker, even at the paper mill.”

Friday volunteers with economic development outside of his position on the IDB as well. In the words of Brenda Tuck, “he’s basically spent his entire life volunteering.”

When Alabama County Extension System (ACES) and MCEDA moved into their new location at the National Guard Armory, Friday was a constant helping hand. Even now, Friday makes his way out to the office several times a week to visit with the employees and to see what he can do.

There are many ways to describe Joe Friday: dependable, hard working, proactive, serving. But perhaps Tuck says it best: “I think Joe is the kind of person who’d give you the shirt of his back if you needed it.” 

By Cristiana Shipma
Last Updated: July 29, 2014