We are honored to recognize the first recipient of the Home Town Hero award - Mr. Joe Bezner!
Joseph John Bezner was born 8th in a family of 12 children, to Joseph Frank and Margarete Schmitz Bezner, on September 11, 1919, in a house on the east side of Main Street in Lindsay. He has been a life-long citizen of Lindsay except for the time he spent at Subiaco Academy from 1932 to 1936, during his service in the Army National Guard from 1940 to 1945, and one year with a job.
Joe’s mother sent him to the public school, across the street from his home, because the Catholic school wouldn’t enroll him at the age of 5. The following year, he was transferred to St. Peter’s Catholic school.
On November 1, 1941, at the age of 21, Joe joined the Army National Guard. He was assigned to the Medical Regiment. During his service to his country, he trained in the swamplands of Louisiana, in sandy Florida, on to the Carolinas, then to Massachusetts where he lived in a tent city in blustery 20 degrees below zero weather. The 36th division was finally brought together in New York. On April 2, 1943, they sailed by fast convoy and arrived at Oran, Algeria eleven days later where they served as the backbone of the newly formed 5th army. On September 9, 1943, he was a member of the first American division to invade the European mainland at Salerno, Italy where the forewarned German army awaited to fight. Suffering heavy casualties, the beachhead was secured by the Texas 35th on September 14th.
Joe married Anna Hebert on May 21, 1945, in Louisiana. They moved to Lindsay shortly after. Joe worked in Gainesville at Massey Harris and International Harvester. He was named the district manager of Massey Harris and moved to Franklin, TX. His wife was homesick, so after one year, they moved back to Lindsay, where they raised their 8 children. On their return to Lindsay, Joe was hired by John Deere. Then he worked for Schad and Pulte before going to work for Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Company in 1979. He worked as an adjuster for Germania while managing the Green Gables. In 1960, he began a full time career with Germania and in 1984, opened the office where Lindsay Liquor Store was located. He worked there until his retirement in 2002 at the age of 83. Since his retirement, Joe has been an active member of the K of C’s, served as the sacristan at St. Peter’s, and cared for his wife, Anna, until her death in 2015.
In 1959, when Lindsay became an incorporated city, Joe was chosen as the first mayor. He was reelected again and again until 1976. While Joe was mayor, the town completed a water system, built a sewage disposal system, dug a second water well, Main Street was widened, City Hall was built, and the town contracted for a part-time Sheriff for patrol.
After he retired, Joe volunteered as sacristan at St. Peter’s until he began caring for his wife full time until her death. Joe enjoys attending mass, visits from his friends, children, grandchildren and great grandchild, eating out, and napping.
Thank you, Mr. Bezner, for all that you have done for our community!