Joe ”Max” Word went to his reward on January 29, 2018 surrounded by his adoring family. They spent his final evening singing cowboy songs and old hymns.
Max was the only child of Lena Enright Carson and John Taylor ‘Boppo” Word.
He came into this world on December 28, 1929 in the little cow town of Ozona, Texas. Growing up Max spent much of his time working as a cowboy. He was a talented calf-roper, bronc and bull rider and rodeo-ed all over Texas. He had horses, cow, goats, pigs, chickens, many dogs and a raccoon named Cooney. His journey as a lifelong learner began there. He graduated valedictorian of Ozona High and was offered several scholarships. He accepted a football scholarship to North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington.
He transferred to Texas A&M in 1948 and became a Fightin’ Texas Aggie for the rest of his life. He graduated in 1952 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He practiced large animal medicine in Memphis, TN, where his patients included even the animals at the zoo.
He served his country as a 1st Lieutenant and medical officer in the 5th Army Headquarters during the Korean War from 1953 to 1955 and then for several more years in the Army reserves. In 1953 in Chicago he met an engaging airline stewardess from Nebraska, Eunice Barge. They were married within three months on September 6, 1953 (and would have tied the knot sooner had Max had his way). Their life and great love together lasted 65 years.
In 1955, they returned to Texas so Max could practice at a large cattle ranch in Lone Oak, TX, but a friend encouraged Max to pursue an MD, so they returned to College Station where Max taught and took classes at Texas A&M University, and received an additional Bachelor of Science degree.
He entered Southwestern Medical School in Dallas graduating at the top of his class in 1960. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the Honor Medical Society, and Phi Chi Fraternity. Max completed a one-year internship in Dallas in Internal Medicine, and two years of residency, first at the University of Oklahoma in general surgery and then at St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. In 1961, Max and Eunice welcomed their son Jon into the world.
The Words loved the mountain lifestyle and moved to Rifle, a small town on the western slope of Colorado, where Max practiced family medicine. They bought a picturesque farm with Max’s parents and raised Herford cattle, rode horses, grew hay, barley and apples. Max personally delivered his daughter Tami in November 1964. On winter weekends, the Words all learned to ski in Aspen. Alpine skiing quickly became the favorite family sport.
In 1969, Max returned to Parkland Hospital in Dallas to complete a residency in Diagnostic Radiology. He was certified by the American College of Radiology and he and Eunice moved to Lubbock in 1972, where he entered private practice. He served on the staff at West Texas Hospital, Highland Hospital, Methodist (Covenant) Hospital, St Mary’s and the Texas Tech
University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). He was a founding member of the Diagnostic Radiology Associates (DRA) and Director of DRA for many years. Max also served on the faculty of South Plains College in Levelland as the director of the Radiology Technologist Program and was a clinical professor at TTUHSC.
He was a member of the Lubbock, Crosby, Garza County Medical Society, and in 2008 they named him Doctor of the Year, granting him the Hippocratic Award. He was also an active member of the Texas Medical Association where he served on the Board of Censors for several years. He was a member of the Radiological Society of North America, the American College of Radiology, and the Texas Radiology Association.
Max was an amazing husband and loving father and very proud grandfather. He never met a stranger-ever! He was always singing, always smiling, always enthusiastic, always asking a thousand questions. He was ever curious about everyone and everything and up for any adventure. Frequently, he and Euni would dance the night away.
In addition to his family, Max loved his dogs — especially his Dachshund Tigger and his Basset Hound Barney – and he loved flying. He was a licensed private pilot with instrument rating and a glider pilot too. Little Tigger was often his co-pilot when Euni or his friends could not fly with him.
He enjoyed photography, hiking in the mountains, biking, tennis and golfing, horseback riding, hunting elk and deer, salmon fishing in Alaska, trout fishing in Colorado, and skiing in the Rockies. In short, he enjoyed just about any adventure outdoors. He absolutely loved playing sports and traveling with his kids and grandkids and watching them pursue their own athletic endeavors and activities. And he, of course, was an extremely passionate Aggie fan.
He and Eunice traveled all over the US and their many exciting trips abroad included Russia, most of Europe, Canada and an African safari.
Max was an active volunteer for The Boy Scouts of America, Meals on Wheels, and the Metropolitan Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow. He served more than 25 years on the Wells Fargo Board of Directors. He was a member of the 12th Man Foundation, the Texas A&M Presidents Council, the Texas A&M Former Students, and the Texas A&M Athletic Ambassadors. The Words have sponsored Texas A&M students with a Presidential Scholarship for 30 plus years.
His final wish was to have “Paid in Full” engraved on his headstone. Max indeed paid all his debts in full.
He is survived by his wife Eunice; son Jon; grandchildren Kyle and Taylor Word of Albuquerque; and his daughter Tami Word of Aspen.
Services will be held Monday, February 5th at 2:00 p.m. in the Neil Chapel at Carillon. Live Country Music and lots of Blue Bell Ice Cream to follow. Boots and jeans encouraged.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Boy Scouts, South Plains Food Bank, Women’s Protective Services, Meals on Wheels, or desired educational philanthropy.