William and Olga Joos

Olga and William Joos on their wedding day in 1973

Olga and William Joos on their wedding day in 1973

William “Bill” Joos, 75, grew up the adopted son of Louis “Lee” and Genevieve (Raynor) Joos of Murray Hill. His parents, devout Catholics, adopted Bill from the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Augustine shortly after his birth in 1940. He laughs about his childhood nickname, “Carrot-top,” which perfectly described the curly red hair he had until age four or five.

The Joos family name hails from Alsace-Lorraine, France and is French/German. Joos’ relatives immigrated to the U.S. in the 1800s and traveled by covered wagon to Millerville, Minnesota where they settled. 

Joos’ father, Louis “Lee” Joos, was a quiet man who survived smallpox and returned from World War I deaf in one ear. From Minnesota, he worked in Canada and left a depressed economy to relocate to Jacksonville in 1915. He worked in real estate development.

Joos’ mother Genevieve moved with her father, Alfred D. Raynor, from Brooklyn, New York to West Virginia after the deaths of her mother, Cecilia (Smith) Raynor, and grandmother. Genevieve relocated to Jacksonville when a friend moved here and loved it. She lived at the downtown YWCA, was a member of the Women’s Lifesaving Corps at Jacksonville Beach, rode and showed horses. She worked as a secretary for the Fleming Law Firm in the Barnett Bank building until she met Louis Joos, fell in love and married.

Olga and Bill Joos

Olga and Bill Joos

The Joos family lived at 1127 Wolfe Street where Bill attended Ruth N. Upson Elementary School through second grade. The family moved to 2609 Herschel Street one block from St. Paul’s Catholic Church and School. At that time, Bill entered third grade at St. Pauls.

“It was convenient to be closer to St. Paul’s for my mother to attend daily Mass,” Joos said. “My sister and I walked to school against the flow of students catching the bus on Post Street, so it looked like we were skipping school. Later we caught the bus at St. Paul’s to attend Bishop Kenny High School.” Joos graduated from Bishop Kenny in 1958 and later attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1962 with a degree in government.

After ROTC in college, Joos was deferred to attend law school at the University of Florida. He graduated in 1965. He then served in the U.S. Army. He spent two years at Fort Bliss, Texas, before being transferred to Korea as a Hawk Missile Battery Commander. The end of his service was spent at Fort Benning, Georgia.

In contrast, Joos wife, Olga Martin-Ballestero, spent her childhood in Europe. She was born to Luis and Olga (Hernandez) Martin-Ballestero, a prominent Spanish family from the Basque Country where Luis served as governor of Vitoria.

When Olga was 11 they moved to Zaragoza, Spain, where she attended School of The Sacred Heart, studied ballet, music and fencing. When she was young, Olga lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe and is fluent in four languages.

Olga graduated from the University of Zaragoza with a social sciences degree in 1970. She worked two years as a dental assistant at Zaragoza U.S. Air Base and learned English before relocating to Orlando.

Bill met Olga while visiting mutual friends in Orlando and said it was love at first sight on his part. He proposed while they were sitting on the dock at the Florida Yacht Club. The couple married in 1973 in Calatayud, Spain.

Olga completed her teaching degree from UNF and was a French and Spanish substitute teacher at Bolles. She taught languages at Douglas Anderson for five years and at Episcopal four years. In 2000 Olga retired from teaching and volunteered as a docent leading children’s tours at the Cummer Museum.

Joos has been a partner in the law firm of Duss Kenney Safer Hampton & Joos, PA on Jacksonville’s Southside since 2000. He specializes in real property law. Earlier he worked with Watson & Osborne PA, for five years. His first position after law school was with Boyd Jenerette PA, where he spent 30 years in practice. The Diocese of St. Augustine has been his client for 43 years.

The Joos first apartment was in Avondale on Pine Street close to Bill’s widowed mother on Herschel Street. In 1975 their first child, Catalina, was born. Soon after her birth, the family moved to River Road in San Marco where they lived for 26 years. While living on River Road, three more children were born into the family.

The Joos family includes a daughter Catalina Vergara and her husband, Julio, of Los Angeles, and their two daughters, Paloma and Mattea; a son Louis Joos and his wife, Samantha, of Mandarin and their four children, Sophia,  Louis, Jr.,  Leon, and Henry; a daughter Olga Joos-Mahoney and her husband, Nicholas, of Bethesda, Maryland and their two children, Penelope, and Felix; and a son, William, who lives in New York but is planning to move to Los Angeles.

In 2001, Joos and his wife moved from River Road to a home on Lakewood Road where their love of flowers is evident from their beautiful, blooming yard, which is colorful even in winter.

“I call us ‘Camellia Nuts.’ We have 40 varieties of camellias, even some brought from California,” Joos said. “We enjoy visiting plant nurseries wherever we are and bringing home new varieties.”

Bill Joos teaches a granddaughter to play the piano

Bill Joos teaches a granddaughter to play the piano

Music has always been an important part of Joos family life. His mother, Genevieve, served as Friday Musicale president 1962-1964. She sang contralto in St. Paul’s Choir and at Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Duval Street. Bill studied piano in grade school through high school with Genevieve McMurray who lived in Springfield and taught lessons in her home. McMurray was Immaculate Conception Church’s organist.

Bill continues to enjoy playing classical piano and organ music by Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart. He has served as interim organist for St. Paul’s Catholic Church. He plans to play more in the future after retirement. All of the Joos children and grandchildren love music, play piano and other instruments, he said.

In 1981 Joos was honored to be asked by Jeanne Donahoo, founder of the Cummer Museum Music Committee, to join that group. The music committee sought to bring the finest national and international classical musicians to perform in Jacksonville, Joos said. The Cummer Museum’s free concerts were a highlight of Sunday afternoons in Riverside for many years. Joos served on the music committee and as its chairman until 2012 when it disbanded.

These days, the Joos family surround themselves with music, art, books, friends and family. They look forward to attending classical music performances and Live at the Met broadcasts at Tinseltown Movie Theater. Bill wants to improve his Spanish and travel more with Olga. Olga takes UNF Continuing Education classes, is learning the tango and recruiting friends to join her.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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