(Adapted in part from the Express-News on April 6, 2007)
Judge Joe E. Briscoe is the grandson of George Thomas Briscoe and Susie Robinson Briscoe, (see Glimpse, May 10, 2017), and the son of George Briscoe’s oldest son, John Tucker Briscoe. Joe Briscoe was born in Devine on May 8, 1914, and lived in San Antonio from 1923 – 1946, after which time he moved his family to Devine where they remained throughout their lives.
Joe Briscoe graduated from San Antonio Junior College in 1933 and then from the San Antonio Public School of Law in 1936 with an LL.B Degree; later, he was awarded an honorary LL.D Degree from the University of Corpus Christi, where he served as a trustee.
Joe’s life was a remarkable one. Graduating from the Quartermaster School in Philadelphia and the Command and General Staff School in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, Joe served in World War II in the Pacific Theater of Operation for three and a half years in the Quartermaster Corp. Upon his discharge, he was a Lieutenant Colonel.
In addition to his connections with UCC, Joe Briscoe was a longtime supporter of Baylor University where he served as Regent there for 18 years. According to Baylor Media Communications, “Throughout his serving as trustee and later as regents, Judge Briscoe was involved in the planning and completion of Old Main, Moody Library, the Hooper-Schaefer Building, construction of Rogers Engineering and Computer Science Building, the establishment of the School of Engineering, reconstruction of Russell Gym, construction of the Ferrell Center, construction of the McCrary Music Building, purchase and renovation of the Clifton Robinson Tower, establishment of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and renovation of the Carroll Science Hall and Carroll Library.”
In 2002, the Founders Medal, Baylor’s most distinguished award, was bestowed upon Judge Briscoe and his wife, Gene Aubrey. Other awards for which the couple was honored include the James Huckins Award in 1987, the Pat Neff Award in 1989, the Alumni Honoris Causa for their financial support of Baylor and its students, the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award, and the Herbert H. Reynolds Award.
In 1975, the Briscoes began their legacy of giving when they established an endowed a scholarship fund. Then, even though Judge Briscoe did not attend Baylor School of Law, in 1996, he and his wife began providing scholarships for Baylor Law School students.
But the Briscoe legacy of giving extended beyond the school of law, as the couple provided academic scholarships in a variety of organizations as well as honoring friends and loved ones through generous gifts.
Some of Joe Briscoe’s additional accolades include the following: He was a member of the Texas Cavaliers in San Antonio, practiced law for over 41 years, was a housing developer – building five subdivisions in Devine with more than 200 houses – and helped to organize Castroville State Bank, where he served as Director, and the former Gill Savings & Loan Association.
Joe was a fellow in the State Bar Foundation and a member of the College of the State Bar. He practiced law in Devine from 1938 to 1979 and served as a Judge of Medina County Court of Law from 1979 to 1991. In addition, he served as a visiting judge in the district and county courts at law in 21 counties in South Texas.
Of paramount importance to Joe Briscoe was his relationship with the Lord. Reportedly, Joe accepted Christ at the First Baptist Church in San Antonio in 1926, and it was in that church that he married his wife, Gene Aubrey Hargis Briscoe – with Dr. Perry Webb officiating – on November 25, 1941. Beginning in 1948, Joe served as a deacon of the FBC of Devine where he was twice elected Chairman of the Deacon Board and where he served as a Sunday school teacher for some 50 years. In addition, Judge Briscoe served as President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and participated in two Christian crusades overseas in the Philippines and in Nigeria.
When Judge Joe E. Briscoe passed away on April 4, 2007, he was survived by his wife of 65 years and two daughters – Dr. Harriet Harral and her husband, Paul, and Joanne Jones and her husband, Ben. He was also survived by four grandchildren: Huard Harral, Aprile Westbrook, Bailey Jones, Corinda Fellers, and seven great-grandchildren.
Judge Joe E. Briscoe was a gentleman, a philanthropist, and Christian example. As stated upon his passing by Baylor School of Law Dean Brad Toben, “Judge Briscoe was a paradigm of the committed servant-lawyer and was a model of the wise and discerning judge…. His example of a life lived in faith and commitment to justice and the needs of others is a life that we will all gain inspiration from as we cherish his memory.”