Remembering Joe Tarpley, 1939-2021. From auctions to actions on behalf of his church and community, he was a local legend.

Remembering Joe Tarpley, 1939-2021. From auctions to actions on behalf of his church and community, he was a local legend.

Joe Tarpley, March 24, 1939-April 6, 2021.


In context: He was one of the most recognized people in Northwest Georgia. From his commanding gavel and voice at auctions big and small, companies to church benefits,  Joe Tarpley was the real attraction. He was a central figure in not only community business but his church and local charities. From the Greater Rome Chamber to Trinity United Methodist Church — and at times, across the country — Joe Tarpley made things happen.


“Going once, going twice….SOLD!” — magic words for a lifetime auctioneer. Inductions into the Georgia Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 1999, as well as the 1991 Georgia State Champion Auctioneer, Joe Tarpley witnessed the transformation of his profession from road signs and plastic banners to computer generated flyers and internet only auctions, being flexible and nimble with each change, remaining active with John Dixon and Associates until his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The only child of Rachel and Joseph C. “Buster” Tarpley, Joe spent his growing up years playing with cousins, Tom and Jim Ford, on their farm, surrounded by aunts and uncles. As a young man, Joe gained a life-long love of quail and dove hunting, thanks to his grandfather Thomas Wall and Uncle Gaston Wall and he developed into quite a sharpshooter. Even during a 2019 quail hunt, soon after an accidental fall, Joe got back to his feet and shot two quail with two shots from his gun. He was also a Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited.

Joe and his wife of 62 years, June, have three children, Joe Jr., Susan and Chris. They enjoyed each other so much, especially as Joe planned great vacations which included going out West, spending time at the beach and introducing the kids to Washington, D.C., for the first time.

Joe was affiliated with the J.L. Todd Auction Company for over 42 years. He managed sales from the east to west coast including Puerto Rico and Canada. He held real estate licenses in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida. He had a wide professional experience which led him to receive Realtor of the Year as well as a Humanitarian Service Award from the Greater Rome Board of Realtors. Joe even taught at Berry College and facilitated continuing education events through the Georgia Association of Realtors.

Joe loved his job—from the prep for the sale to the thrill calling the auction to the closing gavel. Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his Rome High School Class of 1957, Joe was very successful and accomplished in his profession. Auctioneering was something that gave him meaning, joy and purpose. From all the travels throughout the country for auction sales, Joe was a barbecue aficionado, introducing colleagues to the best BBQ joints wherever they traveled to a sale.

Joe’s leadership in the auctioneering world was matched with his involvement and commitment to God through Trinity United Methodist Church in Rome. His organizational skills, his teaching and leadership in the Fellowship Sunday School Class to the Board of Trustees and Staff Parish committee and especially managing numerous successful pledge campaigns have been an invaluable part of Trinity Church’s health and growth.

Charts of people who filled the usher teams for each service, written on yellow legal pads were often found beside Joe’s chair in the den, tucked into his Bible or Sunday School book. His leadership and commitment on the local church level proved effective on the Rome-Carrollton District level as well. He chaired the District Council on Ministries and the Church Building and Relocation Committee. He was a very skilled lay speaker who rounded and addressed many Methodist Circuits throughout West Georgia. The lifelong friends Joe and June developed through their church, created a community of faith that has supported each other through the full cycle of life: marriages, children, grand-children and medical diagnoses and problems inherent with aging.

Recently, June and Joe’s daughter, Susan was out for a morning walk around Redmond Hospital. She ran across a brick with her Dad’s name on it: “JOE TARPLEY 2001.” That brick was to acknowledge Joe’s receipt of the Award of Honor for being “Heart of the Community.” We can’t help but express that “Happy Joe,” as the grandkids know him, was not only the heart of Roman Community, he’s the heart of our family. His exact loading and unloading of the dishwasher, the circle of ketchup he intentionally drew from the center of the burger to its edge, his love of a good story and his full throated, raucous laugh will be sorely missed.

Joe leaves behind his wife, June, three dedicated and caring children, Thomas Joseph Tarpley, Jr. (Veranita Alvord) of Reidsville, NC, Susan Tarpley Stout (Dwight Stout) of Rome and Chris Tarpley (Emily Tarpley) of Calhoun. Mimi and Happy Joe have seven grand-children: Katie Stout Storey-Pitts (Kevin), Sidney Stout Klein (Conner), Caroline Tarpley, Olivia Tarpley, Blake Garland, Brett Garland and Ivan Tarpley.

Funeral Services through Daniel’s Funeral Home and Cremation Services are on Monday, April 12 with Visitation beginning at 12:30 followed by the Funeral beginning at 2:00 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Rome. Pallbearers include: Mr. John Dixon, Mr. Dwight Tolbert, Mr. Dennis Thompson, Mr. Sam Evans, Mr. Spence Cantrell, Mr. Jerry Watford, Mr. Thom Holt. Additionally, The Fellowship Sunday School Class, Trinity United Methodist Church, shall be honorary pallbearers. Rev. Nanci Hicks and Rev. Joe Tarpley, Jr. will be Celebrating Joe Sr.’s full, vibrant life…going once, going twice, SOLD!

The family asks in lieu of flowers, please send donations to Trinity UMC and to National Auctioneers Foundation, 8880 Ballentine Overland Park, KS 66214

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