Joel Jennings Death, Obituary – Jennings, Joel Charles passed away at the age of 85 to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, while he was under the tender care of his wife of 62 years, Mary Lee Jennings (née Russell). Around the middle of the 1970s, Joel and Mary Lee acknowledged Jesus as their Lord and Savior (John 3:16, Romans 10:9). Over the next almost-50 years, they spent much of their time, energy and nearly all of their resources supporting, serving, participating in, or leading various Christian ministries and missionaries around the world.
Including World Vision, Navigators, National Center for Fathering, CRU, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bible Study Fellowship, Young Life, Old Life, Heshima, Wooddale Church, Timberwood Church, Grace Church, Rotary and many others. Because to his compassion, tenderness, and generosity, he will be remembered by hundreds of people. Joel spent his childhood in Mountainside, New Jersey. He went to Jonathan Dayton high school, where he was the first-chair trumpet player in the school band. He was also the trumpeter in “The Stardusters,” a six-person dance band that he created with his high school classmates.
“The Stardusters” played for hire. The band charged between $20 and $25 for a three hour show, which was then divided equally among the six members of the band. In 1956, immediately following his graduation from high school, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During his time at the university, he was both the captain and most valuable player of the men’s gymnastics team. In addition, he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. In the fall of 1959, Joel first met Mary Lee Russell, who would later become his wife, at a fraternity party gathering.
In 1960, he received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from the University’s School of Commerce. In July of 1960, Joel moved to Newark, New Jersey, to begin his career in the sales department of the Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA). In September of 1960, he enlisted in the United States Army and was given a post at Fort Dix in New Jersey. During this time, he was granted leave from Alcoa. He went back to Alcoa in the summer of 1961 and wed Mary Lee on August 12, 1961, which was the day before the Russians started building the Berlin Wall.
While Joel was on his honeymoon, he received word that the 411th Chemical Company, which he belonged to in the Army, had been reactivated in reaction to the Berlin Crisis and would be transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On October 15, 1961, he reported for duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the United States Army. He served honorably in the military until the end of 1962, when he was released. After taking some time off, he returned to work at Alcoa, where he held positions of progressively more importance in the following cities: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis.
He maintained his full-time job in Detroit while attending Wayne State University in the evening to earn his master’s degree in business administration. In 1972, he parted ways with Alcoa and joined National Computer Systems (NCS), where he was offered the chance to operate and improve the profitability of one of the company’s unsuccessful businesses, United Mailing Company. He took this opportunity and left Alcoa. Because Joel was so successful in building United Mailing into a firm that was profitable, in 1976 NCS was able to sell it to another company.
In the same year, NCS entrusted Joel with the mission of improving the performance of Gopher Athletic Supply Co. in Owatonna, Minnesota, which was one of the company’s businesses but had been struggling. At that time, the business was on the verge of going out of business and consisted of a warehouse and office in Owatonna, Minnesota, as well as three retail sports goods stores located in Fridley, Bloomington, and Owatonna, Minnesota, and a field sales staff.