Published 6:57 pm Monday, February 27, 2017
Joel Levingston, rancher, funeral director, husband and father, and most important to him grandfather, died on Sunday afternoon.
He was born on Sept. 19, 1931 in Port Arthur, Texas to Capt. S.W. and Aileen Keeney Levingston.
Joel was a native of this area his entire life, except for time in college and the military. He was a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and attended Landig Mortuary College in Houston where he received his degree in Mortuary Science. He held both a Texas Funeral Director’s and Texas Embalmer’s license. Joel served in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict as head of a Graves Registration Lab.
He established Levingston Funeral Home upon his return in 1955. Joel dedicated his life to funeral service. By the age of nine he was washing cars for a local funeral home.
That same year he married Portia Smith – who he had dated since she was 15 years old.
Together they built Levingston Funeral Home into one of the most successful in the state. Today his children, Kathy and Jay Levingston run the business.
He was named by Groves Jaycees as “Business Person of the Year” twice, Funeral director of the year by Texas Funeral Director’s Association- and too many awards to mention.
Joel was a member of The Methodist Temple, serving as Chairman of the Board, Methodist Men’s, usher and other positions thru the years. He served on the Boards of First Bank and Trust, Doctor’s Hospital and Groves Senior Citizen Center. He was a member and past president of Groves Rotary Club, member and past president of Groves Chamber of Commerce, Groves Masonic Lodge #1315, member and past president of El Mina Shrine, past president and member of Bachelor’s Club, and past chief of Cav-oil-cade Commodores.
He was a lifelong Boy Scout. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout, served as Scoutmaster in Groves and formed Sea Scout Ship #501. He received the Silver Beaver Award, highest honor in scouting.
Joel served as Groves Civil Defense Director for many years following the loss of their first funeral home to the tornado that struck Groves in 1957. At one time he served as Emergency Management Director over the entire Gulf Coast.
Joel was a member of Tejas Vacqueros and a lifetime member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and served on the Breeder’s Greeters Committee.
He served as Commissioner for Drainage District #7 for eight years during which time the levee protecting our area was built. He also served on Drainage District #3 for 20 years.
Joel was appointed to the State and National D-Mort Teams. He was activated during 9/11 attacks and served in New York City.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, March 2, 2017 at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves with a military graveside to follow in Greenlawn Memorial Park.
A visitation for family and friends will be Wednesday evening from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
Joel is survived by his wife, Portia A. Levingston of Port Neches, daughter, Kathy Levingston Lewis and husband John of Port Neches, son, Jay Levingston and wife Belinda of Hamshire, four grandchildren, Kara Scott, Katie Scott, Brooks Levingston and Brock Levingston. Joel will be missed by his companion “Lil Buddy”.
Joel dedicated his life to serving others. Those that knew him know he did just that.