Obituary for Joel McElroy Carson

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Long-time Artesia attorney and rancher Joel M. Carson II passed away on July 23, 2021. Joel was born on January 25, 1938 at Hotel Dieu in El Paso, Texas to Joel M. Carson and Mary Lou (Graham) Carson. Not long after his birth, Joel’s parents returned to Southeast New Mexico where the family owned and operated ranches in Lea and Eddy Counties. After surviving the “Time It Never Rained” in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Joel’s father passed at age 52, when Joel was just fifteen years old. Following his father’s passing, Joel’s mother, Mary Lou, raised Joel and his sister Cynthia in Lovington. There Joel lived the life of a small-town teenager, hunting, playing football, and forming lifelong friendships. Although the drought of the late 1940s ended his parent’s ranching operation, Joel worked often with his Uncle, Mason Graham, on the family ranch just south of Lovington gathering, branding, and doctoring cattle. It is rumored that Joel and his lifelong friend Tom Black blew the bottom out of a stock tank on Mason’s ranch with a stick of dynamite – a story neither would ever confirm or deny. After graduating from Lovington High School in 1955, Joel spent a year at New Mexico Military Institute. He attended NMMI with hopes of playing polo, but as luck would have it, the polo team disbanded the year he arrived. With those hopes dashed, Joel packed his bags and headed to Waco, Texas where he enrolled in Baylor University with plans of graduating and attending medical school. But during a medical emergency in which one of the Graham Ranch hands crushed his hand in a well pump, Joel nearly passed out at the sight of blood. After this experience, he changed course and set his sights on a career in the law. He graduated from Baylor in 1959 and next attended the University of New Mexico School of Law where he graduated in 1962. Upon graduating, Joel accepted a position with New Mexico’s attorney general, where he served for six years as an Assistant Attorney General-including a time as Bureau Chief of what was then Bureau of Revenue. During that time, Joel developed a passion for drafting legislation. He drafted many bills ultimately passed by the New Mexico legislature including portions of New Mexico’s gross receipts tax law and the Unfair Practices Act. Over the years he also drafted or contributed to many bills involving oil, gas, and energy matters. After six years with the Attorney General’s office, he moved his practice to Artesia, New Mexico to join prominent oil and gas attorney A.J. “Jerry” Losee. Joel and Jerry practiced for many years together and their law firm, Losee and Carson, continued in one iteration or another for many years. Joel maintained a diverse law practice in Artesia assisting everyone from pro bono clients to publicly traded companies. For many years, until making the decision to cut back on his working hours, he was a primary attorney for New Mexico’s largest oil refiner, one of Artesia’s largest employers, and the Artesia Hospital District. He even appeared from time to time for Hollywood stars who invested in oil but later found themselves in lawsuits. As interesting as his complex clients were, he always made time to represent kids, persons trying to escape abusive relationships, and local people who needed advice and counseling. And he did all of this with his stalwart legal assistant Beverly King, with whom he worked for forty-eight years. But the return to Southeast New Mexico was more than just professionally fulfilling.

It was there he found true love when Jerry Losee’s legal secretary introduced him to her daughter Eireen Marshall – later to be Carson. Joel met Eireen and her four young children Stephen, Ron, Reese and Michelle (ages 4-10) and the rest is history. After Joel and Eireen would return from dates, the kids allegedly asked Eireen: “Mom, are we going to marry Joel?” Well, they did – on April 10, 1969. Joel and Eireen had one more child in 1971 – Joel III – and raised their family in Artesia. They were particularly pleased that each of their children graduated debt-free with a college degree. Joel and Eireen lived their love affair until she preceded him in death in 2007. The return to Southeast New Mexico also allowed Joel to live the western lifestyle he so loved. Being part of a Lea County ranching family instilled a drive in Joel to get back into the cattle business, which he did in 1976, with some leased ground near Hobbs. He later moved his cattle operation to Hope, New Mexico when he and Eireen purchased the J.C. Ward Ranch. Ranching and horses were a passion for Joel. He tried team roping for a while – but decided to switch equestrian disciplines when legendary team roper Jerold Camarillo complimented him on how well he “roped on the ground.” He owned some great horses over the years, including Star O Lena and Holly Leo 74, but he made sure his kids were the ones to compete on them. Joel III on the former and Michelle on the latter. But he did own and show a great horse himself – Scatter N Dust – a cutting horse his friend Dee Merritt found him. Joel and Scatter N Dust won many cutting horse buckles in New Mexico. Joel loved people and, after Eireen’s death, he rekindled many old relationships with high school and law school friends. He was fortunate to spend several good years with his friend Linda Murphy, whom he met at his son Ron’s wedding. And through his law school roommate Wayne Wolf, Joel met Almira Whiteside. Joel and Almira traveled the world together and never missed the opportunity to watch Joel’s grandchildren or great grandchildren show horses and work cattle together. When asked after Joel’s death how long they were together, Almira said “not long enough.” Her statement reflected a sentiment shared by all of his friends and family. Joel was predeceased by his wife Eireen, his son Stephen, and his grandson James Matthews. He is survived by his sister Cynthia Duchatschek and her husband Duke of Belleville, Illinois, son Ron Carson and his wife Ann of Roswell, son Reese Carson of Las Cruces, daughter Michelle Matthews of Artesia and son Joel Carson III and his wife Karen of Roswell. He is also survived by his grandsons Jacob Matthews, Reese Carson II, Kenz Price, Joel Carson IV, and Chris Carson and great-grandson Case Ray Matthews. Not to be left out, Joel is also survived by his faithful dog of more than ten years “Big John.”

Joel always joked about certain friends being on his “Permanent Pallbearers List” – and so it is. Serving as honorary pallbearers will be his friends Tom Black, T.E. “Tom” Brown, Bill Gray, Jimmy Mason, Dee Merritt, Johnny Nelson, Jack Reid and James Rogers. Pallbearers will be his grandsons Jacob Matthews, Reese Carson II, Joel Carson IV and Chris Carson along with Chris Pruitt and Chance Chase. The family invites everyone to attend a memorial service for Joel at First Baptist Church of Artesia on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. A graveside service will follow in

Lovington, New Mexico at the Lovington Cemetery at 3:30 p.m. Visitation will occur on July 26, 2021 at Terpening and Son, 611 W. Grand Avenue, Artesia, New Mexico from 4-6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to The Chase Foundation, 2103 W. Main St., Artesia, NM 88210 or the Lea County Museum, 103 S. Love St., Lovington, NM 88260.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joel McElroy Carson, please visit our floral store.

Source: Terpening & Son Mortuary
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