Joe L. Elias, Sr.

August 29, 1938 ~ March 24, 2020 (age 81)


Joe L. Elias passed away on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 in his home in Yuma, Arizona, surrounded by his loved ones.  Joe was born on August 29, 1938 in Douglas, AZ and graduated from Douglas High School.  Joe was raised at the family ranch when he was not in school and quickly learned the ranching business.  Joe moved to Wellton, AZ and had a cattle feeder yard and farmed alfalfa for his own use.  He was a member and Sergeant E-5 of the National Guard, Company C, 2nd BN, 158th Infantry.  Joe eventually started working for the Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in the Photo Optics Department.  This work proved very rewarding and as Chief of the Department, he worked for Equal Opportunity Office and became the Hispanic Employment Officer.  During this time Joe received two awards from the Pentagon, and three from Arizona Governors.  Joe was selected by Valle Del Sol Profiles of Success as Hispanic Man of the Year for Arizona, awarded and recognized by the Arizona Governor. 


Joe was very active in the community servicing as President of the Club Latino Americano, President of the Yuma City County Library Board, President for the Center of Education Training, member of the Yuma Jaycees and held various offices to include Yuma Jaycee Rodeo Chairman.  Joe was also Chairman and co-founder of the Jaycee International Foundation which included members from Arizona, California and Sonora and Baja California Mexico.  Joe was also selected and presented with the highest JCI Award: The Key Man Award which was made by the Arizona Jaycee President.  Other involvements were as President of the Cultural Council of Yuma, Treasurer of American Beginnings, Member of the Yuma Fine Arts, and Vice President of the Rio Colorado Historical Society.  He was appointed by Governor Babbit to the AZ Health, Physical Fitness and Sports Council as well as a member of the Yuma Elks Lodge #476 and was an active member of the ARC of Yuma County. 


After Joe retired from the Yuma Proving Ground, he enjoyed retirement for two months before contracting out to law enforcement and after four years he went back to working at the YPG as a consultant for Artillery Analysis.


Joe had always been very involved in raising money for educational scholarships and over thirty years ago started having Block Parties at the Downtown Mall with Mexican, Native American and Ethnic activities.   


Joe also put on the first Yuma Mariachi Festival to raise money to help support the General Arts of Yuma Scholarships.  Joe also worked with the YPG Civilian Employment Program to adopt the Co-Op Program to hire Arizona Western College students to work at YPG during the summer or attend school at night while working at YPG.


Joe is survived by his son Joe, Jr., daughters Lee Ann Stember, Kathy Elias-Mikels and Diana Pino.  He has twelve grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren. Joe had a rich family history with one Uncle becoming President of Mexico, six Generals, ten Colonels and nine Governors with the Last Governor of Sonora serving during the period of 2010 to 2016.

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