Mr. Joseph “Joe” Dallas Fontenot, 91, born on August 10, 1930 in Mamou, Louisiana, son of Clements A. Fontenot and Edie Fuselier, passed away in his home on October 13, 2021 with his wife of 50 years, Betty Joan “Joanne” Fontenot, and daughter, Sherry Jones, by his side.
Joe lived a long and fulfilling life surrounded by friends and family that loved him immensely. He was known for his quiet demeanor, servant’s heart, hard work ethics, selflessness to others and country, and his immeasurable love for Tabasco Sauce. Joe enjoyed fishing, whistling, chewing on a toothpick, and making his infamous gumbo soup for his friends and family to enjoy.
Joe graduated from high school in Louisiana before joining the U.S. Army at the age of 17, later branching to the United States Air Force and served for 21 years before retiring with honorable discharge.
During his military career, Joe received medical training from Randolph AFB in San Antonio, TX. He served in Tulli, Greenland and Okinawa, Japan as an emergency dispensary. He often told stories about this time period, and he was most excited about how he had seen his first tv with a screen and “big box” telephone. He later served as part of an evacuation team in the Philippines at Clark AFB. Joe received training as an independent physician assistant and was assigned to the emergency room where he worked at Alto V.D. Medical Center as an investigator for Shaw AFB in Sumpter, South Carolina. Then, he served as an assistant ophthalmologist in eye surgery while stationed at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where he received the Good Conduct Medal Clasp (5 loops) for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity during his service, and the Meritorious Service Award for actions, such as his establishment of a visual screening program which increased the efficiency of patient care in the EENT Clinic.
Joe owned a local eye glass and hearing aid shop, originally named Playground Optical and later renamed 20/20 Optical and Hearing located off Eglin Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. Joe retired in 2003 after moving to Destin where he enjoyed watching the boats and breathtaking sunsets off of his balcony overlooking Crab Island.
Retirement did not slow him down. Joe was an active member of the community; he served many years in the Kiwanis Club and was part of the local Knights of Columbus. He served as the president of his condominium association and volunteered at the Muscogee Nation of Florida Indian Reservation located in Bruce, FL. For most of his retirement years, Joe was a member of the Fishers of Men Sunday School Class at the Village Baptist Church of Destin, FL. As a Village Volunteer, Joe partnered with local ministries to raise funds to sustain 2 missionaries abroad, built wheelchair ramps for physically disabled and widowed individuals, repaired and built homes - well into his 80s - food pantries, and provided clothing for local organizations. One local ministry, Path of Grace, was very dear to Joe’s heart. There he enjoyed volunteering his talents completing projects or repairs needed by the ministry. But, he mostly enjoyed sharing his faith and mentoring the women in the ministry.
Joe is survived by his five children Joseph Fontenot Jr., Marlene Stagman, Mona Blum, Tammy Hughes, and Sherry Jones. He is also survived by 19 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Joe is preceded in death by his mother Edie Fontenot, his father Clements Fontenot, his
sons Mark Fontenot and Matthew Fontenot, his daughter Melanie Fontenot, grandson Kurt H. Blum, his sister Raynella Gunter, and brothers Allen B. Fontenot and Raphael Fontenot.
Funeral service honoring Joe will be held at Barrancas National Cemetery on November 19, 2021 at 11:30 AM. Friends and family are welcome (must arrive by 11:00 AM). A reception will follow at the Fontenot residence at 3:00 PM. Please RSVP to Sherry Jones at (850) 376-3509 if you plan to attend either event.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Path of Grace Ministries (https://www.pathofgrace.net) or to the Fishers of Men Benevolence Fund through the Village Baptist Church of Destin, FL (email Linda Blackwood at email@example.com). Both organizations were very dear to Joe’s heart.