On October 7, 2019, Joseph “Joe” Anthony Raz passed away at the age of 84 in his Bastrop, Texas, home. Joe was born on February 17, 1935, in Yoakum, Texas, into a Czech Catholic family. In 1955, he enlisted in the U.S. Army reserves. The same year, he met his future wife, Agnes Morkovsky, and in 1957 they were married in St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. He was a loving husband, father of 6, grandfather of 14, and great-grandfather of 6.
During the San Antonio years, Joe was active in St. Benedict’s parish life as a member of the choir, the Pastoral Council, and the Holy Name Society, and later, the Catholic Family organization, a small-church community. For a while, he was employed by a small-town farm and ranch newspaper. Shortly after their first son was born, Joe began his career role selling chewing gum for the American Chicle Company. Joe continued his higher education, finishing night classes and earning an Associate of Arts degree from St. Mary’s University, which led to career promotions to District Manager, Dallas Division Manager, and Southwest Regional Manager.
After welcoming an additional four children, two daughters and two sons, and subsequent to a company merger with Warner Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, Joe accepted a position as National Sales Training Manager, which entailed moving the family in 1969 to the home office in New Jersey. Shortly thereafter, their sixth child was born.
Joe continued to be active in the Catholic Church at St. Jude’s parish, serving in the choir and managing the CCD program, as well as ensuring that his young children received a good, Catholic education. He continued to travel for work, attending classes at Cornell University and conducting sales training meetings as a member of the National Society of Sales Training Executives.
The cold New Jersey winters eventually became the catalyst for a transfer and move back home, this time to Dallas, Texas, in 1973, and once again in 1978 to Grand Prairie, Texas, to shorten the commute to his office there. Joe joined the Knights of Columbus (KofC) Council associated with Most Blessed Sacrament parish in Arlington, Texas, serving as Grand Knight for two years, and singing in the parish choir.
Once the nest seemed to be empty, Joe and Agnes found their dream property in East Texas and began building a new homestead near Mt. Vernon in 1992. Even as weekend commuters while they developed their land, they quickly found a new parish home at Sacred Heart parish, where Joe served as lector, choir member, CCD instructor, and jack-of-all-parish-trades.
Joe enjoyed backyard gardening all his life, earning his certification as Master Gardener for Dallas for the Texas A&M Extension Service, and later serving as President of the Cypress Basin Master Gardeners. Farm life shaped him into an expert tractor operator, amateur mechanic, field fence installer, cattleman, and agricultural mentor to his growing crop of visiting grandchildren.
As he grew in years, the demands of property maintenance began to take their toll, and retirement started to look good. Joe and Agnes decided to move closer to siblings and children, and in 2007, they moved to temporary quarters to manage their house being built in Bastrop, Texas. Their new Ascension parish home gave Joe almost full time opportunities to be involved, beginning with the K of C Council’s first Grand Knight, Confirmation class instructor, and volunteer with the Sandwich Ministry and Ladies of Charity Thrift Store. He also volunteered with the Bastrop Food Pantry and Primera Baptist Church, distributing fresh vegetables to the needy.
Joe was blessed to have traveled to many places for work and with his wife in retirement, including a pilgrimage to the Czech Republic and surrounding countries, the Caribbean, Alaska and the northwest U.S., as well as all over the U.S. and Canada with their children. This, along with his close relationships with his brother and many friends and extended family, provided a great deal of material to fuel his gift of storytelling, for which he was well known.
In 2015, Joe began to show signs of the neuropathy that would lead through a slow decline to his reuniting with his Heavenly Father. The family then gathered and decided together to move Joe and Agnes to the home of daughter Mary Cay and son-in-law Johnny Schultz nearby after an accessibility renovation. The Schultz family has been generous above and beyond their first faith-filled, Marian “Yes!” when called to honor their parents. Only God knew their commitment would span the next four years, and they never wavered in their joy-filled response.
Joe is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Agnes, as well as his six children and their families: James and Cristan Raz; Suzanne Smith with Brandon, Sean, and Alli; Daniel and Rhonda Raz with Mysti and Brock Shelton, Mandi and Michael Sabanos with Lucie, Benji and Carrie Raz with Tristan (and Lila expected December 2019), and Cassandra and Anthony Harris; Tommy Raz with Rebecca Raz and Zach Austin with Nikolai, and Courtney Raz with Levi and Londyn; Mary Cay and John Schultz with Alex and Casey; and Marty and Bethany Raz with Rex and Jay; as well as wide and beloved circle of in-laws, nieces, nephews, and greats. Joe is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Anton Raz and Katherine Turek Raz, as well as his brother Charles Raz, Sr.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be offered on his behalf to:
Eternal Word Television Network
The Ladies of Charity of Bastrop
1202 Pine St
Bastrop, TX 78602