With family members by his side, Willows resident Joe Bert Hinton died on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, at Glenn Medical Center. He was born on a farm southwest of Stockville, Neb., to Vera and Bert Hinton on July 14, 1934.
His family moved to a ranch near Douglas, Wyo., in 1942, where they lived for five years. It was there he had his first job, delivering on his bicycle The Denver Post door-to-door to about 50 customers, earning $2 a week.
At his young age, he had his one and only debut as a professional cowboy when he signed up to ride a steer at the Wyoming State Fair. He was thrown off on his head and received a concussion but still enjoyed the professional bull riding and rodeos, live and on TV.
His family moved back to the farm near Stockville in 1947. He rode a horse to Walnut Hill country grade school near Orafino, Neb., where his sister was his teacher.
He graduated from Stockville High School in 1953. In 1954, he volunteered for the draft in the Army, took basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and transferred to Fort Knox, Ky., for tank training.
He was made Tank Commander at Fort Knox, and part of the cadre to train another cycle. Augsburg, Germany, was his next stop, where he served with the 5th Armored Division, 10th Infantry Tank Company.
After serving in Germany for about eight months, he was made mail clerk for the remainder of his Army career due to having a hernia. He returned to the States for an operation at Great Lakes Navel Hospital and received an honorable discharge at Fort Sheridan, Ill., in 1956.
He attended McCook Junior College, McCook, Neb., with the assistance of a GI bill. From September 1956 to July 1962, he worked summers and vacations on the engineering training program with the Bureau of Reclamation in McCook, Neb., and completed his Civil Engineering Degree at Denver University, Denver, Colo.
On April 4, 1958, he and LaVonne were married in Curtis, Neb. They were blessed with two children (Brock and Tamara) and four granddaughters (Amanda and Brittney Jerd and Cassandra and Allie Hinton).
From July 1962 to June 1964, he served as an inspector for the Bureau of Reclamation, Kansas River Project, McCook, Neb., inspecting work performed by the contractor to ensure conformance with bureau requirements, including system of canals, laterals, drains, subsurface drains, roads, conservation dams, fencing, etc.
From June 1964 to September 1965, he was the Supervisory Construction Engineer and Chief Inspector responsible for planning and executing a program for work performed on the modification of the Granby Spillway, Colorado-Big Thompson Project at Grand Lake, Colo.
In September, 1965, his job took him to Buena Vista, Colo., where he was the Supervisory Civil Engineer at Leadville, Colo., and the chief inspector for the construction of the Continental Divide Tunnel and the Sugar Loaf Dam of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.
In July, 1968, he was the Chief Inspector and Assistant to Resident Engineer on the construction of Saddle Island Intake and Tunnel for Pumping Plant No. 1 of the Southern Nevada Water Project at Henderson, Nev., residing in Boulder City, Nev.
In December of 1971, the family moved to Fresno, Calif., and Mr. Hinton worked in Tranquility at the Fresno Central Valley Project Construction Office as Supervisory Civil Engineer, responsible for inspection of various phases of construction of major portions of Westlands Water District Distribution System for earthwork, pipelines and structures.
In May of 1972, he transferred to Willows as Supervisory Civil Engineer and Field Engineer. He was responsible for construction of Reaches 3 and 4 of the 120-mile-long Tehama-Colusa Canal.
Other projects completed under his supervision was Thomes Creek Siphon: Reach 1 of the Tehama-Colusa Canal; 500kV Transmission Line and Towers; Red Bluff Operations and Maintenance Suboffice Complex; Erosion Control at Red Bluff Reservoir; Tehama-Colusa Fish Facility Transfer Stipulations; and the Recirculation Structure and Pumping Plant, Kanawha Water District, Laterals 1 and 2.
He was responsible for management of the 120 miles of concrete-lined Tehama-Colusa Canal; Funks Dam and Spillway; and 150 miles of pipeline.
In January, 1986, he assumed the duties and responsibilities of the Office Engineer, Repayment and Land Management and Operations and Maintenance Engineering Branch. He was Acting Project Construction Engineer for the Sacramento Valley Central Valley Project Construction Office and Acting Project Superintendent on numerous occasions.
He retired from the Bureau of Reclamation in Willows in November of 1990, with 36 years of government service.
Mr. Hinton was a california licensed professional engineer, real estate salesperson and co-owner, with his wife, LaVonne, of Hinton Auctioneering. He assisted with youth sports and activities when his children were in Boy Scouts, swim team, baseball and softball.
He was a member of the Willows Elks Lodge #1786 and a life member of VFW Post 1770. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.
He joined the Willows Lions Club in l973, was a Life Member of Lions Club International, and had maintained perfect attendance for 40 years. He had been President, Vice President, Club Secretary, Treasurer, Tail Twister, Director and Club “Lion of the Year” three times, chaired and served on many projects.
On the district level, he served as Chairman of Visitation, Special Activities, Pin Trading, Youth Exchange, New Member Recognition Night, Zone Chairman and he served on the Humanitarian Foundation. He was Deputy District Governor, Treasurer, District Trustee for Lions in Sight, District Lion of the Year in l984-85, District Governor in 1991-92, Lions in Sight Area Director and a Melvin Jones Fellow.
He had sponsored 56 members into the Willows Lions Club. He and wife, LaVonne, have hosted five Lions youth exchange students from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Holland.
Lion Joe and the late Lion Wayne Stroll instigated the Lions District 4-C1 All-Star Football games. He served on that committee since its organization started in 1977.
He belonged to Lions International Pin Traders and California Pin Traders, enjoying the friendships as much as the pins. He designed All-Star Football, District 4-C1, club and individual pins.
He enjoyed helping others and lived the motto of “We Serve”.
The Hintons traveled throughout California, most of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Germany, Holland, Canada, and cruised Alaska and the Panama Canal.
He is survived by his wife, LaVonne; son Brock Hinton (wife Nancy); daughter Tamara Jerd (husband Michael); and granddaughters Cassandra and Allie Hinton, and Amanda McCormick (husband Kyle McCormick) and Brittney Jerd; and brother Jack Hinton.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Bert and Vera Hinton; sisters Ruth Johnson, June Arent. and Roberta Dunn; and brothers Ted Hinton and Glenn Hinton.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at Open Gate Christian Fellowship Church in Willows, with military honors performed by the local VFW. Inurnment is to take place in the Arbor Cemetery in Stockville, Neb., at a date to be determined later.
No donation is necessary, but if you choose, it can be made to Open Gate Christian Fellowship Church, P.O. Box 1022, Willows, CA 95988; the Willows Lions Club, P.O. Box 822, Willows, CA 95988; or your favorite charity.