Joseph was born on September 6th, 1941, in Tama, Iowa to Hal and Frances Waterbury. He lived most of his life in the Tama and Chelsea area, graduating with the Chelsea High School class of 1959. After graduation, Joe attended U.S. Trade Schools in Kansas City specializing in auto mechanics. Upon completing the courses, he went to work for Hartwig Motors in Iowa City. In 1962, Joe married Ellen Pieper of Tama at which time he began working for Tama County in maintaining the county vehicles. Eager to broaden his opportunities, Joe began employment for an auto salvage and soon purchased this establishment in 1970. Joe and his wife ran this business known as Sandhill Auto Salvage for 40 years. They recycled over 60,000 vehicles and were recognized as one of the top 10 Green Auto Recyclers in the U.S. and Canada. Joe built Sandhill Auto Salvage into a successful company which is now owned by his son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Mitzi Waterbury.
Besides being an auto recycler, Joe loved gardening. With his wife by his side, they turned their yard into a beautiful paradise of flowers, trees, shrubs, water gardens, and gazebos. Joe spent hours constructing brick pathways that wound throughout their vegetable and flower beds. Known not only for his auto business, Joe was a self-taught master craftsman in wood working. In 1995, he and his wife built and furnished a dollhouse to showcase Moss dolls for the artist P. Buckley Moss. They traveled with this artist and their dollhouse to shows across the United States. They are very proud that this work of art is now displayed in Waynesboro, Virginia at her art gallery. Joe retired in 2010 when technology and bar coding of the auto parts took over. When he finally completed his “honey do list” and made his acceptance speech for the 2010 “Citizen of the Year”, he and his wife moved to Fairfield, IA to be near their daughter, Deb Buch. As Joe’s heart failure progressed, he spent hours working jigsaw puzzles to pass the time. Game shows and ESPN were his new best friends. Joe was admired by anyone who crossed his path. You could say he was a self-made man with a kind and modest spirit. He would give any man down on his luck a better opportunity at life.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Hal and Frances Waterbury, one brother, Jim Waterbury, and one son, Steve Waterbury.
Survivors include his wife, Ellen, of 54 years, two daughters Chris (Dan) Poggioli of Pecatonica, IL, Deb (Dan) Buch, of Fairfield, IA and one son, Mike (Mitzi) Waterbury, of Tama, IA. Grandchildren include Mitch, (Jillian) Myers, Leanna Myers, Ryan Reid, Leslie Reid, Clay Waterbury, Madison, Myles, and McKade Waterbury and one great-grandson, Raidyn Fildes. Joe is also survived by one sister, Barb (Darwin) Funke, State Center, IA, and one brother, Bill (Ellyn) Waterbury, Iowa City, IA.
A celebration of life was held on Saturday, November 5th, 2016 in Tama.