2017-04-20 / Obituaries


The Passing of Alabama Titan Joe McCorquodale

Joseph Charles “Joe” McCorquodale Jr. passed away on Monday, April 17, 2017 at the age of 96.

Joe was preceded in death by his beloved wife Betty, who passed away in 2009 after a marriage that spanned 67 years.

The roots of the McCorquodale family run deep in the fertile soil of Clarke County, Alabama. Joe was born in Mobile and raised in the small Clarke County Community of Salitpa where he attended school to the 8th grade. He completed high school in Jackson, attended Marion Military Institute and the University of Alabama.

When World War II broke out, Joe joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a bombardier on a B-29 surviving 22 bombing missions over Japan.

When the war ended Joe returned home to his wife, Betty, whom he had wed just five months before joining the Army. Betty had been Joe’s high school sweetheart and she presented him with a brand spanking new son, Joseph C. McCorquodale III, whom family and friends affectionately refer to as “Mac.” Two years later their second son, Gaines C. McCorquodale was born.

On his return from the war, and after trying his hand at a couple of businesses, Joe formed McCorquodale Insurance Agency, and then co-established a forest products company, Overstreet & McCorquodale. Up until a year or so ago, Joe faithfully came to his office and worked almost every day of the week. He was also an avid outdoorsman and hunter, being particularly fond of turkey hunting.

Joe’s most significant accomplishments came in the arena of politics. In 1958, Joe was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives where he served for 24 years, the last eight as Speaker of the House. It was as House Speaker where Joe was widely recognized as one of the most successful and accomplished gentlemen to hold that office. Joe ended his long and illustrious political career in 1982, running an unsuccessful campaign for governor and losing to the redoubtable George Wallace who won his fourth and final term that year.

While he served in the House of Representatives, Joe McCorquodale was responsible for passing legislation which created the two-year college system in Alabama. He was also the prime sponsor of bills designed to curtail rising property taxes, including the co-called “lid bill and “current use.”

Never one to ignore his home district, Joe secured funding for the bridge over the Tombigbee River at Jackson and the bridge on Highway 84 at Claiborne. He also succeeded in getting funds to four-lane Highway 43 from Thomasville to Mobile and rebuilt all of the major schools in his legislative district.

Joe’s honors include being named the Hardest Working Member of the House (1967) and Outstanding Member of the House (1971). He was also inducted into the prestigious Alabama Academy of Honor in 1979.
In an interview in 2005 for a story about Joe McCorquodale, two-term Alabama Governor Fob James was asked for his thoughts about Joe, who was Speaker of the House during James’s first term as Governor (1979-82).

“The man’s word was his bond. It’s hard for me to find words to tell you how outstanding I think he was and of the high regard I hold for Joe McCorquodale!” James said. 

Joe is survived by his sons, Joseph C. “Mac” McCorquodale III (Diane), and Gaines C. McCorquodale as well as four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Visitation for “Mr. Joe” as so many affectionately referred to the former Speaker, will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday with the funeral to follow at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Jackson, Alabama located at 146 College Avenue.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Capital Fund of the First United Methodist Church of Jackson, P.O. Box 385, Jackson, Alabama 36545.

Lathan Funeral Home will direct.


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