Joseph Leland Heath Joannes, known as Lee Joannes (October 17, 1892 – September 20, 1982), was a businessman and American football executive. Joannes owned a wholesale grocery store and was the fourth president of the Green Bay Football Corporation, which became Green Bay Packers, Inc. during his tenure. He was part of The Hungry Five, a group of businessmen who are credited with keeping the Green Bay Packers in operation during numerous financially difficult times. He served on the Packers board of directors for over 58 years in various roles, including chairman, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and director emeritus. During his 17 years as president from 1930 to 1947, the Packers won six NFL Championships while enduring the Great Depression and World War II. In recognition of his contributions, he was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1981. Joannes died in 1982 at the age of 89.
Joannes circa 1940s
Joseph Leland Heath Joannes
October 17, 1892
|Died||September 20, 1982 (aged 89)|
Green Bay, Wisconsin, US
|Occupation||Wholesale grocery store owner|
|Known for||President of the Green Bay Packers|
Joannes was born on October 17, 1892 in Green Bay, Wisconsin to Thomas and Emma Joannes. The Joanneses were a prominent local family owing to their prosperous grocery business. Joannes attended Green Bay East High School until his graduation in 1912. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and then returned to Green Bay after graduation.
In 1872, Joannes' father Thomas and his two uncles opened a small grocery store in Green Bay. During the late 1800s, the grocery store business was expanded into a wholesale grocer and various buildings were erected, including a large plant along the Fox River. Joannes began working for the Joannes' Brothers company in 1916 with his cousin Harold, who started in 1911. Harold served as president and Joannes served as vice president, with both cousins having an ownership interest after their fathers left the business. The business served the Wisconsin region for many years and was ultimately sold to Super Value Stores in 1957, although Joannes retired and sold his interest in the business in 1945. Joannes also founded the Grocers Equipment Services corporation in the 1940s. The corporation focused on modernizing the grocery industry, including stores, packing plants, and restaurants.
Joannes, as a local civic leader and prosperous businessman, supported the early growth and development of the Green Bay Packers. His first interactions with the Packers developed because of his friendship with Andrew B. Turnbull, the owner of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the first president of the Packers. After the Packers almost went bankrupt in 1922, Joannes, along with Turnbull and other local Green Bay businessmen, organized the Green Bay Football Corporation. The corporation was a publicly-owned, non-profit that was created after a stock sale that sold 1,000 shares in 1923. Joannes was elected to the first executive committee and board of directors of the corporation, where he would serve as secretary and treasurer for seven years. In 1930, Joannes was elected as the president of the corporation, a role he held for 17 years—at the time the longest tenure of any Packers president.
As president, Joannes led the Packers through multiple financially challenging times. In the first years of his presidency, the Packers lost a lawsuit initiated by a fan who fell out of the stands at City Stadium. The payout from the lawsuit, as well as the ongoing Great Depression, brought the corporation into insolvency. NFL owners transferred the franchise into Joannes' name in 1933. After a $6,000 loan from Joannes, the corporation was reorganized in 1935 into its current form, now known as Green Bay Packers, Inc. This reorganization was supported by another stock sale that was led by Joannes in 1935 that raised $15,000 and maintained the publicly-owned, non-profit status of the Packers. During his time as president, the Packers won 133 games, were crowned NFL Champions five times, and only suffered one season with a losing record. Joannes also helped lead the team during World War II, when multiple NFL players were called into service and were unable to compete.
Joannes retired as president and from the executive committee in 1947 to focus on his grocery business. He was reelected to the executive committee in 1950 where he helped organize the third stock sale after the departure of co-founder Curly Lambeau. This stock sale raised over $100,000 and helped keep the team in the Green Bay. He served on the executive committee for nine more years, also holding the titles of chairman of the board from 1950 to 1953 and vice president from 1953 to 1959. He was also given the title director emeritus from 1980 to 1982.
Joannes married Helen Gittins of DePere, Wisconsin on June 17, 1920. The marriage produced one son: Thomas Joannes. In the 1930s Helen founded the Green Bay Service League and was very active in the community; she died in 1969. Joannes remarried in 1972 to Delia Joannes. He had one step-son from the marriage: William Baker. After suffering from various health issues in the 1970s, Joannes died on September 20, 1982 at his home in Tucson, Arizona.
As a member of The Hungry Five, Joannes was responsible for helping the Packers survive during its formative years. He personally loaned the team money and led two separate stock sales. His leadership during the stock sales helped maintain the non-profit and public-ownership status of the Packers, which was critical to keeping the Packers in Green Bay. Under his leadership as president, the Packers would become one of the most successful and well-respected franchises in the NFL. Joannes served on the Packers board of directors for 58 years, making him the longest tenured director in team history. He also represented the Packers on various NFL committees during his time on the board. In recognition of his various contributions, Joannes was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1981.
Robert Dominic "Bob" Forte (July 15, 1922 – March 12, 1996) was an American football halfback/defensive back/linebacker in the National Football League. He played for the Green Bay Packers (1946–1950, 1952–1953).Bob Monnett
Robert C. Monnett (February 27, 1910 – August 2, 1978) was a professional American football player who played halfback for six seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.Charley Brock
Charles Jacob "Charley" Brock (March 15, 1916 – May 25, 1987) was an American football center and linebacker.Gerry Ellis
Gerry Ellis (born November 12, 1957
in Columbia, Missouri) is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Green Bay Packers.Hank Bruder
Henry George "Hank" Bruder Jr. (November 22, 1907 – June 29, 1970) was an American football player in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Green Bay Packers from 1931 to 1939 and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1972. Bruder attended Northwestern University, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.He was part of the offensive line that blocked for Pro Football Hall of Fame back Johnny "Blood" McNally.Hank Gremminger
Charles Henry "Hank" Gremminger (September 1, 1933 – November 2, 2001) was an American football player, a defensive back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played ten seasons for the Green Bay Packers (1956–1965) and one for the Los Angeles Rams in 1966.Jesse Whittenton
Urshell James "Jesse" Whittenton (May 9, 1934 – May 21, 2012) was an American football player who played nine seasons in the NFL, mainly for the Green Bay Packers.
Whittenton also played on the Senior PGA Tour in the late 1980s. His best finish was T-21 at the 1989 Showdown Classic.Joe Laws
Joseph Ray Laws (June 16, 1911 – August 22, 1979) was an American football player. He played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers, winning three World Championships, and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1972. Prior to joining the Packers, Laws attended the University of Iowa where he was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity. While at Iowa he was named All-Big Ten quarterback and the Big Ten Most Valuable Player in 1933. On December 17, 1944 Joe Laws set an NFL postseason record (since broken), by intercepting 3 passes in the Packers' 14-7 victory over the Giants in the league title game.John Martinkovic
John George Martinkovic (February 4, 1927 – February 8, 2018) was an American football defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. He played college football and basketball at Xavier University and was drafted in the sixth round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.Johnnie Gray
Johnnie Lee Gray (born December 18, 1953) is an American retired professional football player. Gray was a safety in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers.Ken Ruettgers
Kenneth Francis Ruettgers (born August 20, 1962 in Bakersfield, CA) is a former National Football League offensive tackle who played for the Green Bay Packers from 1985 to 1996.Mike Douglass (American football)
Michael Reese Douglass (born March 15, 1955 in St. Louis, Missouri) is a former American football player. He played outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers (1978–1985) and the San Diego Chargers (1986) in the National Football League. He ranks third in the lists of tackles made by a Packers player.Nate Barragar
Nathan Robert Barragar (June 3, 1907 – August 10, 1985) was an American collegiate and professional football player.Pete Tinsley
Elijah Pope "Pete" Tinsley (March 16, 1913 – May 11, 1995) was a professional football player, born in Sumter, South Carolina, who played guard, defense and offense for eight seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1979.Robert Brooks
Robert Darren Brooks (born June 23, 1970) is a former American football wide receiver who attended University of South Carolina and played for the Green Bay Packers (1992–1998) and the Denver Broncos.The Hungry Five
The Hungry Five are the five Green Bay, Wisconsin area businessmen who were instrumental in keeping the Green Bay Packers franchise in operation during its early years. They raised funds, incorporated the team as a non-profit corporation, sold stock, established the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors and otherwise promoted the franchise.
The Hungry Five consisted of Curly Lambeau, attorney Andrew B. Turnbull, attorney Gerald Francis Clifford, Dr. W. Webber Kelly and Lee Joannes. Turnbull was the Packers' first president and publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Joannes was the president for 17 years, helping guide the Packers through the Great Depression, near bankruptcy and a second stock sale. Kelly served one year as president, and also as team physician and as a board member. Clifford served on the Executive Committee for two decades. All have been inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Despite their years of service, only coach/player Curly Lambeau was ever paid a salary. “The Hungry Five” nickname was coined, as can best be determined, by Arch Ward, because they always seemed to have their hands out for money, since the franchise was often in financial trouble.Vernon Biever
Vernon Joseph Biever (May 21, 1923 – October 13, 2010 ) was an American photographer, most notably with the Green Bay Packers.
Biever covered his first Packers game in 1941 for The Milwaukee Sentinel while a student at St. Norbert College. He served in the United States Army during World War II. Later, he owned a Ben Franklin store and a travel agency in Port Washington, Wisconsin. He was the official team photographer from 1946 until his retirement in 2006.His photographs were collected in The Glory of Titletown (ISBN 0878339906). Biever's photographs have been featured in books, television shows, and movies.
Biever's son John is a photographer for Sports Illustrated. His other son, James, and grandson, Michael, also were photographers for the Packers.Whitey Woodin
Howard Lee "Whitey" Woodin (January 29, 1894 – February 7, 1974) was an American football player. He played with the Racine Legion and the Green Bay Packers and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973. After retiring from football, Woodin remained in Green Bay and worked for many years at Falls Power and Paper Company.Willie Buchanon
Willie James Buchanon (born November 4, 1950) is a former cornerback for the National Football League's Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers; he was defensive rookie of the year in 1972 and a two-time Pro Bowl player. He finished his career with his hometown San Diego Chargers, retiring with 28 career interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries.
Members of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame