Joe Grubbs dedicated 45 years to public service to Ellis County and, on Dec. 29, celebrated his retirement as the 378th District Court Judge.
Over the years, Grubbs served as the district attorney from Jan. 1 1993 until Dec. 31, 2010. He was also the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce President, as well as deeply involved with the YMCA, Salvation Army, and Gingerbread House. He also served as mayor of Waxahachie and was even awarded Citizen of the Year in 1994.
Further adding to his resume, Grubbs was a member and past president of the Waxahachie Rotary Club and secretary of the Ellis County Bail Bond Board. Grubbs is also a board member of the Ellis County Employees and Teachers Credit Union and Ellis County Children's Advocacy Center.
Friends and co-workers lined to the door, at the Wyatt mansion to greet and congratulate Grubbs on his retirement. Many of his co-workers spoke of Grubbs being a “wealth of information” and a mentor to all.
Grubbs said he was flattered and humbled to see everyone who supported him through the years and those attending the party. He said the coworkers he hired were an asset to the community and he couldn’t have done it without them. When speaking about the people he’d worked with, Grubbs became emotional as he genuinely thanked everyone who’s been by his side.
Grubbs, who served seven years as a judge, said he’s healthy and his mind is in the right place for his age, so he doesn’t expect to immediately get involved, but in the meantime, he plans to catch up with his grandchildren.
When looking at the past several years of sleepless nights, Grubbs said he wouldn’t have changed anything. He explained how the people he worked with as judge, deserve a mass amount of time and attention and he knew it was time to give that responsibility to someone else.
His advice to the next person serving as judge is, “A lot of work and you’ve just got to learn the job because you don’t walk in ready. Get good personnel and competent people and let them do their job. That’s always been my philosophy.”
When reflecting on some of his most memorable accomplishments, he started with winning the election in 1974 when he ran as a Republican. Grubbs said back then everyone in the county was a Democrat. His campaign sign from that election was standing on the mantle.
“Back in 1980 or 1981, when we redistricted precincts in Ellis County for the first time since 1845 when the county was formed to comply with the one-man-one-vote requirement of the Constitution of the justice department,” Grubbs explained. “There have been many high points, a lot of low points. They are jobs, but in a lot of way it’s more than just a job, but it’s given me the opportunity to live here and raise my family.”
At the party, Ellis County Judge Carol Bush recognized Grubbs for his many years serving Ellis County and presented him a plaque, which listed the date serving as District Attorney and District Judge.
Bush mentioned how Grubbs ran for public office because of the interest of the people and didn’t have his own agenda going into politics.
“I feel a little bit of sense of loss because he’s been part of the world that I work in for all of these years and he’s been such a contributor,” Bush said. “I’m real excited for him to spend time with his family. You can’t fault someone when they’ve dedicated their life to public service so I encourage him to make the most of it. He’s been a role model for me and a mentor. He is Ellis County, when I think of Ellis County, he is one of the staples of my professional life.”
Ellis County’s District Attorney Patrick Wilson has known Grubbs since 1999 when he hired him as a young prosecutor from Dallas.
“I can honestly say I would not be where I am without Joe Grubbs. You can draw a direct line from Joe’s decision to hire me all the way to me succeeding him as the Ellis County & District Attorney. If Joe had not hired me, who knows where my life would be right now? I am proud to have him as a friend and a mentor.”
Grubbs’ impact on Ellis County is immeasurable to Wilson as he’s served in many roles that have directly impacted the lives of the citizens.
“In his long career of public service, Joe wore many hats. They were all heavy hats filled with responsibilities and obligations to the entire community. Joe wore those hats with strength and with grace. He will be missed around the courthouse. I wish him well in his new chapter of life.”
Stacey Auvenshine, Assistant County and District Attorney, said it was because of Grubbs that she and her husband, Lee Auvenshine moved to Waxahachie.
“I don’t think the impact on Ellis County and Joe Grubbs has been overstated,” Stacey said. “He has held many different elected positions, has been a public servant and I view him as a mentor and a person I can emulate. I hope to follow in his footsteps as of public service.”
Lee, who worked with Grubbs for six years and now serves as the Deputy Superintendent for Waxahachie ISD, said, “He’s my life mentor, as an attorney, as a human being. I cherish the ability to be able to work for him, to learn from him. He’s done it all and has been a tremendous asset. As an attorney, father and husband, he’s definitely set an example. It’s his example that I strive to be in my life.”
Current Assistant County and District Attorney Ann Montgomery said even after Grubbs leaves, she’ll still call him for advice. She said, “I learned county government from the hand of the father. He taught me everything I know about county law because he knows it better than anybody else.”
Bob Carroll who worked with Grubbs when he served at 40th District Court Judge and when Grubbs was the District Attorney. “The one thing about Judge Grubbs is that every year that he served this county and state, he served with integrity,” Carroll said.
Many people asked, “What’s next for Joe?” and he said he doesn’t have anything planned just yet. “I have loved this city and the county and the people have been good to me, I hope that I have served them well but I’m not done,” Grubbs said. “I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I don’t intend to be idling. I will serve behind the scenes.”