Wayland Mourns Death of Longtime Staff Member

Joe ProvencePLAINVIEW – The Wayland Baptist University family was saddened by the passing of Joe Provence on Friday, Jan. 21. A longtime employee and friend to the university, Provence’s funeral service is set for 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, at College Heights Baptist Church in Plainview.

A 1966 graduate of Wayland, Provence joined the staff in 1972 where he was part of the university life for more than 40 years, retiring in 2006. His employment included working in the news service office and student activities before taking over as the alumni director in 1985. Upon retirement, Provence was named Emeritus Director of Alumni Services by the Wayland Board of Trustees.

Wayland President Dr. Bobby Hall said the loss of Provence will be felt throughout the Wayland family.

“I have known and worked with Joe for more than 40 years and consider him a dear friend,” Hall said. “He has meant so much to the life of this university through his love for our students and his support of our programs. His influence can be seen all around campus and we are thankful for all he and Freda have done for the university. And while we will truly miss him, we celebrate his life and legacy at Wayland Baptist University.”

Born Aug. 29, 1939, Provence first came to Wayland as a student in 1957. Two years later he left the school to take care of his ailing brother. He returned several years later to begin his career at Wayland and finish his degree.

WBU Alumni Director Teresa Young said Provence was always ready to lend a helping hand whenever his beloved university needed it, and his impact went far beyond the day-to-day operations.

“Joe was a great friend and coworker during my years in public relations and I always marveled at how many alumni he knew personally,” Young said. “When I applied for this [alumni] job, I felt the weight of following in his footsteps and wanted to be the same kind of alumni director, one who knew and cared about people first and foremost.

“No one loved Wayland quite like Joe and he will forever remain in our hearts and thoughts.”

While on staff, Provence served in many additional capacities, including sponsor of the cheerleaders and, along with Freda, sponsor of the Miss Wayland pageant when it was a preliminary pageant for the Miss Texas competition. The Provences worked diligently with each year’s Miss Wayland winner to prepare her for the Miss Texas pageant.

Joe and Freda were honored with Wayland’s distinguished Alumni Award and the Spirit of Philanthropy Award in 2013. In 2018, Joe and Freda received the prestigious President’s Award, the highest honor bestowed to benefactors who have not only given financially, but have also supported the university’s endeavors through service and advocacy.

In retirement, Joe and Freda continued to support the university and its students. They were leaders in the All-Steinway initiative, raising enough money to purchase Steinway and Sons model pianos for use across campus, replacing all other pianos. They could also be seen regularly attending athletic events, theatrical performances and musical concerts. Joe and Freda were founding members of Wayland’s Friends of Music philanthropic group, raising thousands of dollars in scholarship money to support music students.

Provence embodied the Wayland spirit in his actions and with his love for the university and its students. Throughout his years of service and beyond, he developed special relationships with students, faculty, staff and trustees who remember him fondly.

“He gave freely of himself and seemingly never missed an opportunity to be affirming and encouraging,” said WBU Trustee and longtime friend Joe Jesko. “It’s my honor and privilege to have known Joe since 1961. Over those six decades, three things about him never changed: One, his devotion to Christ; two, his love for Freda; three, his passion for Wayland. I can never hope for a more loyal friend and Wayland will likely never see another more dedicated to her than Joe. He will be missed.”

The family has requested that donations in memoriam be made to the School of Creative Arts in Joe’s name. For more information, contact Wayland’s advancement office at 806-291-3602, or give online at give.wbu.edu. In the drop-down menu select “Other Designated Area” and specify Joe Provence in the details.

 

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Above: Joe Provence took up painting later in life. The arts were a constant love and area of support for Joe and Freda.