|Death: ||Feb. 1, 2011|
Joe W. Esco, 86, a national pioneer in the retail tire industry, was welcomed home by his Savior on Tuesday, February 1, 2011. He died peacefully at home after a lengthy illness.
Throughout his life, Joe touched the lives of so many, as husband, father, grandfather, brother, colleague and friend. Born near Bessemer, Alabama, second son of Elizabeth and Henry Esco.
He grew up in the Heart of Dixie and married Oklahoma native, Martha Sue Denson, on June 5, 1945. She preceded him in death last March.
Esco spent most of his life in Oklahoma City. After serving as a sailor in the Pacific Theatre during WWII, Esco returned to his home state, where, thanks to the GI Bill, he attended the University of Alabama. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1949, he moved to Oklahoma City where he began his professional life as a salesman for the B.F. Goodrich Company. After eight years with Goodrich, Esco entered a partnership with Johnnies Tire Company of Oklahoma City. Two years later, in 1959, he started Joe Esco Tire Company in an abandoned Oklahoma City filling station, located at 1336 W. Main. Three years later he relocated to N.E. 23rd and Kelly. During the following years, he opened additional retail outlets throughout Oklahoma City.
He was one of the first American dealers to realize the benefits of the steel-belted radial tire and a "cold process" of retreading truck tires. Recognizing Esco as a trailblazer in the industry, tire companies such as Michelin, Toyo, Uniroyal, and Yokohama selected him to serve as an advisor through their national dealer councils. In 1971 Esco began a retreading plant for off-road equipment. The plant prospered and Esco soon moved to an expanded facility at 605 N. Meridian. He selected this spot because of its proximity to I-40.
Indeed, Esco was one of the first entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Interstate highway system, which was fast moving the nation's freight hauling from rail to roads. With the success of the Meridian service center, Esco placed a new emphasis on truck tires. He soon expanded, ultimately opening new stores first elsewhere in Oklahoma and later in Missouri, Texas and Arkansas. In 1980 Esco was elected president of the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association (now the Tire Industry Association). By 1997, when Esco sold the Joe Esco Tire Company, he had become one of the largest independent tire dealers in the Southwest. In 2008, he entered the TIA Hall of Fame, receiving its Historical Contributions Award.
Outside of his business, Esco was a charter member of the Oklahoma City Committee of 100, the President's Associates of the University of Oklahoma, and the Sales and Marketing Executives of Oklahoma City.
Joe loved to catch wily fish, close a deal, and dance with his beloved "Susie". He dreamed of being a scratch golfer, winning every hand of Gin Rummy, grilling the perfect steak every time and seeing both his alma mater and the University of Oklahoma win National Championships in football. Some dreams came true.
He is survived by his daughter, Susan Esco Chandler, and husband Alfred, of Rowley, Massachusetts; son, Steven Joe Esco, and wife Susan, of Oklahoma City; grandchildren, Elizabeth Crain, Jonathan Crain and Kylie Esco; sister-in-law, Joann Denson Taylor; many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Joe's generosity, love of life and gracious presence will be with us always. The family expresses their deepest appreciation for the caregivers Jan, Toni and Mary for their loving caring way that added to the comfort of their loved one. Also, a special thanks to Monica with Hospice of Oklahoma County.
A celebration of his life was held in the Chapel at Crossings Community Church, OKC, Monday, February 7, 2011.
Martha Sue Denson Esco (1926 - 2010)
Rose Hill Burial Park
Created by: Heartland Volunteer
Record added: Jul 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 73142788
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