Joan Gray Lockaby Youngblood went home to Jesus Tuesday March 6 at the age of 85. She was the kindest, most decent woman I ever worked with. Her family was her heart. And boy did she have a great family.
She had to bury two husbands during her life and I had the privilege to be with her through both of those trials. They were both really fine men. Bob Lockaby Sr. was the father of her children and her best friend. He left suddenly on a Sunday afternoon. Bill Youngblood was a gift from God to be her partner later in life. Joan suffered with him through the final months of his life. She was so strong yet so humble. Joan was a classy, intelligent, thoughtful and beautiful person.
I met Joan in 1983 in the Gene Roberts campaign for Mayor. She had served Congressman, later U.S. Senator Bill Brock as his regional director and was one of the key GOP women locally with the likes of Jeanne Geraghty and Reba Brown. We became friends and, when I was 29 years old, I told her that if she would agree to be the Executive Director of the Hamilton County Republican Party that I would run for Chairman. She agreed so I ran and we won.
In the following six years (my two as chairman followed by Hal North and Valerie Copeland Rutledge), the Republican Party became the majority party in Hamilton County for the first time since reconstruction. Joan was instrumental in our success. In 1990 we won the majority on the County Commission, the legislative delegation and finally the first majority of judicial positions in history.
But Joan was not really a partisan. She believed in good government-period.
Her friendships from the Election Commission to the precincts were based on mutual respect and appreciation for all volunteers and activists Democrats or Republicans.
People called her my “political mom” and was at my side in every early campaign working with Pat Brock in 1992 and our team in 1994 when I was first elected to Congress then advised me for years to come.
I owe a whole lot to Joan Youngblood.
There would be a Zach Wamp without Joan Youngblood because my mother is Beth Wamp and she is wonderful. But there would never have been a Congressman Zach Wamp without Joan Youngblood because she taught me more about people and how to approach public service than anyone ever did or ever will. She was invaluable to me and many others.
Joan will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Today heaven wins out over this world because she is there right now with our Beloved Jesus. We love you so much Joan and shall see you again in Glory.
Member of U.S. Congress 1995-2011