Joseph Elmer Hart
|Posted 2022-09-16 by mhenderson|
|Published by The Miner on Sep. 15, 2022 -|
Kingman, Arizona -
Joseph Elmer Hart was born May 8, 1944, in Kingman, Arizona, to Kenneth
“Dick” Hart and Helen McDermott. Joe was the seventh and final addition
to the Harts completing a family of three boys and four girls. He was a
fourth-generation Arizonan and a lifelong resident of Mohave County.
Some of Joe’s fondest childhood memories were spending his days riding
his horse around town from sunup to sundown and sitting at the counter
of his mom’s diner, “The Chocolate Shop,” on Fourth Street. Always on
the menu was the Joe Hart special: a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate
milkshake. He enjoyed spending the summers outdoors exploring Boulder
Springs, dancing at community dances, and working alongside his dad in
the family’s mine. His parents instilled in him the value of a hard
day’s work early in life. Joe would be known for his work ethic and for
his aversion to “burnin’ daylight.”
Joe attended elementary, junior high and high school in Kingman,
Arizona, where he met many lifelong friends, including Donnie Ely, Billy
Logas, Bob Ware, George Logan, Alan Dusho, and many others. The
shenanigans these guys got into are legendary and they were darn lucky
social media wasn’t around. However, their stories will live on with
their children and grandchildren.
Joe married Rhonda Kay Reeves on Sept. 4, 1967, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rhonda was an only child and they eloped. It would take years for Joe to
earn the title as “favorite son-in-law” after eloping with their only
daughter. Joe and Rhonda were sealed in the St. George temple in 1972
and recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.
Joe met Rhonda one night out dancing and knew he had found his dance
partner for life. They loved to dance. Watching them dance was, as a
friend said, was “like watching poetry in motion.” Together they had
four daughters affectionately known as the “Hart Girls” – Cari Jo,
Trisha, Jodi and Amy. His daughters, his wife Rhonda, grandchildren, and
great-grandchildren were his pride and joy, and he never hesitated to
brag about them. Joe considered himself the “luckiest man” to be blessed
by such a wonderful family. He loved his family fiercely and was their
ultimate protector and provider.
Professionally, Joe worked at the Duval mine for 20 years as a safety
foreman. Some of Joe’s strongest friendships were formed there. His crew
was a second family and they watched out for each other on and off the
job. The Duval families and the friendships would continue throughout
Joe worked his weekends and nights ranching. He started ranching with
Flay Peterson in the 1970s. Flay was Joe’s mentor and taught him much
about the cow business. Upon Flay’s retirement, Joe and Rhonda bought
the Black Mountain Cattle Company in 1979. Ranching was his true love,
passion and therapy. He spent countless hours hauling water, patching
water lines, punching cows, branding and moving cattle. His passion for
ranching was sparked the moment he rode his first horse.
Joe spent summers in St. George, Utah with his brother Bud, where he
broke horses for local ranchers. For his efforts, Joe would get a new
pair of cowboy boots to head back to school each Fall. Bud said Joe
could ride anything and would bet on him in match races. One time Joe
was riding an especially rank horse and ended up getting bucked off. The
wild ride ended with a trip to the hospital for Joe and a payday for
Bud. Bud bragged about that epic dismount for years. Joe was most
comfortable in the saddle and was an expert horseman. Both Joe and Bud
would live by the motto: “You can never be without a good horse.”
Another passion of Joe’s was cars. He loved anything fast and sought out
a race. While his bother Bud kept him in horses, it was his brother
Bobby who made sure he had a nice car. In high school Joe had a 1959
Chevy Impala convertible that he souped up and raced the quarter mile
uptown any chance he had. He was an expert at the holeshot! This hobby
would be the source of consternation with Rhonda because Joe felt
compelled to save any car or pile of metal he saw abandoned. His
daughters say he was a collector of precious metal and an expert in
In 1984 Joe and Rhonda bought KGMN FM, a local radio station in Kingman.
In the years to come they would add KYET, KZKE, TV 36 and TV 23 to their
broadcasting business. Joe would say the secret to a successful cowboy
was to have a wife who worked in town. So, Rhonda worked in town running
the radios stations. Joe and Rhonda excelled in the radio business as it
was a natural fit. They both had a deep appreciation for music. The
radio station brought many opportunities to connect and serve the
community. The radio business also led to Joe’s next hobby: interviewing
and entertaining country music legends. Throughout his life Joe would
interview country music stars such as Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Mel
Tillis, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr.,
Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Mel Tillis, Garth Brooks, and so many
Joe was a lover of the country music greats and considered many of them
friends. He had an especially close relationship with Charlie Daniels
and Willie Nelson.
In 1992, Joe was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. He
served in the state House for 10 years, as Speaker Pro Tempore, as well
as chairman of several influential committees, including Public
Institutions, and Environment and Government Operations. Joe often joked
that there is a civics teacher rolling in his grave at the thought of
Joe Hart being an elected official. Joe’s time in the Legislature would
generate some of his most treasured memories. Joe held those he served
with in the highest regard and counted many as his closest friends. He
was a strong leader on Western state issues such as water rights,
agriculture, mining and highways. He served on the Interstate 11
commission and was instrumental in getting Highway 93 designated as part
of the NAFTA trade corridor.
In 2006, he was elected Arizona State Mine Inspector, where he served
for 15 years until his retirement in 2021. Joe became the first
statewide elected official from Mohave County. This position allowed Joe
to draw upon his mining roots and use his legislative experiences to
further protect and serve the citizens of Arizona. His top priority was
to make Arizona safe for its residents to live, work and recreate. He
led the effort to identify, fence and close Arizona’s abandoned mines.
Joe spearheaded the educational campaign “Stay Out Stay Alive.”
His public service was the honor of a lifetime. He took the oath of
office with pride and respect, recognizing the trust that was placed in
him. Joe proudly served under five governors during his legislative and
state executive service including governors Symington, Hull, Napolitano,
Brewer and Ducey.
Joe passed away in Cedar City, Utah, on Sept. 11, 2022, from
complications of kidney disease. He was surrounded by his family as he
peacefully passed on.
Joe was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth “Dick” Hart; his
mother, Helen Hart; father-in-law Riley Reeves; mother-in-law Billie
Reeves; sisters Marge Ivy, Ruth Hart and brothers Bud Hart and Bobby
Hart. He leaves behind his wife Rhonda, daughters Cari Jo (Jay)
Hokanson, Trish (Jeff) Shorter, Jodi (Curry) Wilson, and Amy (Mike)
Bleak; 11 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, sisters Harriet
Davenport and Kathy Hart, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins; and
countless loved ones.
Joe was a friend to all. He lived a fulfilling life and often compared
his life to the Alabama song “I’ve loved a lot more than I’ve hurt.” Joe
had many titles in life, but the ones he most cherished were Sweetheart,
Dad, and Papa. He will be remembered as a loving husband, father and
Papa. He also said “he loved his life so much that he would do every
footprint over again.”
Joe was a true gentleman, a respected statesman and a man of great
faith. His compassion and loving “HART” were his hallmarks. He performed
quiet acts of service daily. Joe also had the greatest respect for
service men, women and veterans. He never missed the opportunity to
thank them for their service. In lieu of flowers the family asks that
you follow Joe’s example and perform an act of service for someone or,
thank a service man, woman or veteran for their service.
Joe’s services will be held in Kingman, Arizona on Monday, Sept. 19,
2022, at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Stake Center located at 610 Eastern St. The viewing will be Sunday,
Sept. 18, 2022, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the same location. An
additional viewing will be held Monday morning from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
before the service. Interment will be at the Chloride Cemetery.
See Also: Find A Grave
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