Lee Joannes

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.

Lee Joannes
Portrait photo in black and white of Joannes
Joannes circa 1940s
Born
Joseph Leland Heath Joannes

October 17, 1892
DiedSeptember 20, 1982 (aged 89)
Green Bay, Wisconsin, US
NationalityAmerican
OccupationWholesale grocery store owner
Known forPresident of the Green Bay Packers
Spouse(s)
  • Helen Joannes (née Gittins)
    (m. 1940; died 1969)
  • Delia Joannes (m. 1972)
Children2

Early life

Joannes was born on October 17, 1892 in Green Bay, Wisconsin to Thomas and Emma Joannes.[1] 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.[2] He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and then returned to Green Bay after graduation.[1]

Grocery business

In 1872, Joannes' father Thomas and his two uncles opened a small grocery store in Green Bay.[3] 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.[4] The business served the Wisconsin region for many years and was ultimately sold to Super Value Stores in 1957,[5] although Joannes retired and sold his interest in the business in 1945.[6] 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.[5]

Green Bay Packers

Joannes, as a local civic leader and prosperous businessman, supported the early growth and development of the Green Bay Packers.[7] 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.[8] After the Packers almost went bankrupt in 1922, Joannes, along with Turnbull and other local Green Bay businessmen, organized the Green Bay Football Corporation.[9] The corporation was a publicly-owned, non-profit that was created after a stock sale that sold 1,000 shares in 1923.[10] 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.[2] 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.[11]

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.[12] The payout from the lawsuit, as well as the ongoing Great Depression, brought the corporation into insolvency.[5] NFL owners transferred the franchise into Joannes' name in 1933.[2] After a $6,000 loan from Joannes,[1] the corporation was reorganized in 1935 into its current form, now known as Green Bay Packers, Inc.[2] 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.[1] 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.[13] Joannes also helped lead the team during World War II, when multiple NFL players were called into service and were unable to compete.[14]

Joannes retired as president and from the executive committee in 1947 to focus on his grocery business.[15] 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.[16] This stock sale raised over $100,000[10] and helped keep the team in the Green Bay.[17] 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.[2]

Personal life

Joannes married Helen Gittins of DePere, Wisconsin on June 17, 1920.[18] The marriage produced one son: Thomas Joannes.[19] 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.[20] After suffering from various health issues in the 1970s,[21] Joannes died on September 20, 1982 at his home in Tucson, Arizona.[22]

Legacy

As a member of The Hungry Five,[10] Joannes was responsible for helping the Packers survive during its formative years.[15] He personally loaned the team money and led two separate stock sales.[1] 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.[2][17] Under his leadership as president, the Packers would become one of the most successful and well-respected franchises in the NFL.[13] Joannes served on the Packers board of directors for 58 years, making him the longest tenured director in team history.[1] 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.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Packers Corp. Founder Joannes Dies at 89: Part 1". Green Bay Press-Gazette. September 22, 1982. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Christl, Cliff. "Leland H. Joannes". Green Bay Packers, Inc. Archived from the original on November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  3. ^ "Joannes Bros. Opened Store Here in 1872". Green Bay Press-Gazette. July 18, 1934. p. 172. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  4. ^ "Joannes' Growth Reflects Pleasing Service". Green Bay Press-Gazette. February 20, 1931. p. 24. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  5. ^ a b c "L.H. Joannes Retires as Packer President; Served 17 Years". Green Bay Press-Gazette. July 23, 1947. p. 13. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  6. ^ "Joannes Firm Changes Voted". Green Bay Press-Gazette. November 20, 1945. p. 9. Archived from the original on December 23, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  7. ^ Remmel, Lee (September 21, 1969). "Executives Have Influenced Development of Packers". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 95. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  8. ^ Christl, Cliff (February 9, 1981). "Lombardi era is Lee Joannes' fondest memory: Part 1". The Post-Crescent. p. 27. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  9. ^ "A Rain Storm, Chance Brought Turnbull, Packers Together". Green Bay Press-Gazette. August 10, 1949. p. 15. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  10. ^ a b c "Green Bay Packers Stock & Financial History". Green Bay Packers, Inc. Archived from the original on April 29, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Rudolph, Jack (November 12, 1960). "Plaque Unveiling Packer Homecoming Hightlight". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 9. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  12. ^ Christl, Cliff (February 9, 1981). "Lombardi era is Lee Joannes' fondest memory: Part 2". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 28. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  13. ^ a b "Green Bay Packers Team Encyclopedia". Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Football and America: World War II". Pro Football Hall of Fame. p. 2. Archived from the original on October 2, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Daley, Art (April 23, 1948). "Joannes Honored; Pack Will Never Leave Bay". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 13. Archived from the original on December 21, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  16. ^ "2011 Packers Media Guide – Shareholder History & Financial History" (PDF). National Football League. 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 24, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Packers plan fifth stock sale". ESPN Internet Ventures. Associated Press. December 1, 2012. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "20 Years Ago Today". Green Bay Press-Gazette. June 17, 1940. p. 10. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  19. ^ "Thomas Joannes". Green Bay Press-Gazette. February 7, 1976. p. 15. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  20. ^ "Packers Corp. Founder Joannes Dies at 89: Part 2". Green Bay Press-Gazette. September 22, 1982. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  21. ^ "Joannes Improved". Green Bay Press-Gazette. July 10, 1972. p. 18. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  22. ^ "Joannes, Leland H." Arizona Daily Star. September 22, 1982. p. 60. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com open access.

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