Obituary of Joe Sills
Joseph Robert Sills was born on May 4, 1942 in Brownsville, Tennessee to Joe Wallace Sills and Cordelia “Peggy” Sills. The son of a brick layer, he spent his childhood learning his father’s trade, fishing and exploring the fields and forests of Haywood County with his horse, Lady. He played a trumpet out of poverty and into history. Though Joe could not read sheet music until college, his natural ability and perfect pitch earned a band scholarship to Memphis State University. There, he traveled the country as a member of the “Mighty Sound of the South,” becoming one of the first people to ever play in a pep band inside Madison Square Garden. On weekends, he shared his horn with the artists of Stax Records and shared his soul with the waters of West Tennessee. Joe went on to earn a masters in music education from Memphis State University en route to an unrivaled career as a high school band director. His bands at Bolivar Central High School, Murray High School (Ky), Ripley High School, Haywood High School and Dyersburg High School captured nine championships at the prestigious Mid-South Invitational, now the Bandmaster’s Championship hosted by The University of Memphis. His 1977 band at Murray High School won the Marching Bands of America Grand National Championship. Joe’s prowess as a band director was only rivaled by his skill as a fisherman. Over the course of 78 years, he captured more tournament victories and angler of the year awards from bass clubs in Kentucky and Tennessee than can ever be counted. He established the Haywood County Jr. B.A.S.S Club and served as Tennessee Youth Director for the sport’s preeminent organization, B.A.S.S, helping to guide one young Haywood County angler to two national championships of his own. His regular columns in the Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News and Brownsville Press encouraged readers to explore the outdoors in their own backyards. He served as the marketing director for the Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News for the past 23 years. Joe was a man of devout, Christian faith who was especially fond of his home church, Brownsville Baptist Church, and his last stop in music, Toone Baptist Church. There, he served as a music director in the service of God. Joseph Robert Sills leaves a legacy of music, faith and appreciation for the outdoors that transcends generations. He was preceded in death his brother, Timothy Rains Sills; his father, Joseph Wallace Sills his mother, Cordelia “Peggy” Rains Sills, and his beloved horse, Lady. He is survived by his wife Susan Speake Sills, his four sons, John Christopher Morey and wife Kelley; Evan Wallace Morey; Cameron Speake Morey and wife Rebecca; and Joseph Lawrence Sills, along with 11 grandchildren, two nephews and two great nieces—nearly all of whom can play an instrument and catch a fish. Graveside Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 23 at Oakwood Cemetery in Brownsville, Tennessee with Bro. Sammy Tillman and Bro. Anthony Vaughan officiating. An honorary band comprised of former students, family members and alumni will play music preselected by the former director. Social distancing and face coverings are required. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials to Christ Episcopal Church, 140 N. Washington St., Brownsville, TN 38012 or Toone Baptist Church, 20 Keller St., Toone, TN 38381. All arrangements and services are under the direction of the Lea & Simmons Funeral Home in Brownsville, TN.
Graveside Funeral Service
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Brownsville, Tennessee, United States