Remembering Joel

Dr. Joel Baxley

October 9, 1969 – December 8, 2020

Read Obituary

Special thanks to Kendall Harrison for preparing this video

“The completion of your life is about to be reached… You are just about to enter the Real World. I look forward to seeing you there.”

Joel (Letter to Paw-paw, July 30, 1993).

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In Lieu of flowers: Please Donate to Splash Youth Arts Workshop

Joel & Nancy interview

Recorded April 14, 2019


Visitors to the Hunter Museum are invited to enjoy this bench, donated in Joel’s name. He often taught from this very spot.



In Lieu of flowers: Please Donate to Splash Youth Arts Workshop

In Lieu of Flowers Joel has requested donations to Splash Youth Arts Workshop. You can Donate here.

31 thoughts on “Remembering Joel”

  1. I remember seeing Star Wars for the very first time in the theater with Joel in 1977 in the Theater. That day a science fiction fan was released l. Joel will be missed. My condolences to all of his Family and Nancy.

  2. I have known Joel as a phenominal artist, but more importatly as a good friend. I will miss him in this world that he left such a positive light on and see his presence all over Chattanooga in the many peoples’ lives he touched.

  3. Rest in peace dear friend. You were such an inspiration to do many. Your teaching of Revelations will always be my favorite study. We love your family. Prayers for comfort to them

  4. Joel came to my classroom on several occasions through Allied Arts—many of my students were from one parent homes, & loved the attention Joel gave as he worked his magic on different art projects. A life led devoted to our Lord, his family & his community

  5. As I listened to the interview and his talking about wanting to become a teacher, I remember so well observing his teaching as his university supervisor. In fact, it was his teaching I was scheduled to observe on 9/11, and I did observe him then. But all the times I observed him, I NEVER thought (as he mentioned in the interview) that he “didn’t know enough.” I thought he was very gifted and very prepared for what he was doing! But I certainly respect his love of learning and understand that there is always more to learn.

  6. Many people get married but not all have a love story. Nancy and Joel are a love story and their vibrant, thoughtful, loving girls are a reflection of that! I will miss seeing Joel sketch while listening during church. We love y’all

  7. I had the privilege of working working with Joel and will forever remember his smile, dedication to his students, love for his family and his Lord. His work will live on through the many students he taught and my life is better for knowing him.

  8. God bless the family. You are still impacting this world and young artists even in transition. What a wonderful spirit. We are eternally grateful for your life and work. Thank you.

  9. What I remember most is Joel’s great patience, his near unshakeable calm. I recall a day where we were in Lloyd, and I needed to trace some cables under the stage, Joel was the caretaker for the theater I was student sound tech. I was lifting up one of the removable sections and he warned me to be careful, that it would fall into the orchestra pit if I wasn’t careful… the word careful falling just as the section I was holding fell into the orchestra pit. Joel remained calm, never raised his voice, or got angry at me, just helped me lift it out of the pit. Joel was calm, steady, years ahead of me in maturity. Kind of an old soul of sorts, always sage, never excitable, approaching everything with calm and peace.

    To my eternal regret, I did not get to know you better in our all too brief time together. I hope you know on some level how much I respected and admired you.

  10. How grateful I have been to work with such a kind and creative man! Every day he would greet everyone with a hearty “Good Morning!” He never failed to start the day positive. The interview is beautiful and the letter as well. Thank you for sharing both of those plus the photos. I send my love and prayers for you, Nancy, Sarah and Maddy and all of your family. May you find peace in knowing he has graduated and is now in that beautiful place with his Paw-paw.

  11. My fondest memory of Joel was when five college students had to cram into a little 2-door Dodge Charger to get from Henderson, Tennessee to Pensacola, Florida for break. Only Joel could make that situation comfortable. He was talented in so many ways. Prayers for peace and comfort for his family, friends, and students.

  12. First of all, my sincerest condolences to Joel’s family and loved ones. You are all in my prayers and thoughts right now. Without Joel, I wouldn’t even be where I am today. He was one of those mentors I will always refer to when asked: “what or who made you want to become a teacher?”. I met Joel on my path towards teaching in college 4 years ago, and had the privilege of working close with him both in the classroom and at the southeast center for education in the arts. My time there was invaluable, and it was all because of Joel , his kindness, and teaching. I couldn’t thank him enough. He will be missed.

  13. Joel came to a high school reunion years back, we all sat at a table in a local restaurant. The table was covered in paper intended for doodling. My son was very young and Joel took to drawing a creature of some sort to entertain him. He was playing as much as any kid. I admired him so much for his creativity and his ability to get along with others. I wanted to tear the paper off and keep it but felt embarrassed to do so. Just wanted to have a memory of such a great soul. I am not a believer, but if I were I hope the place he goes to is as magical as the drawings he used to make on a whim. He will live on in those that remember him and I plan to for as long as I can.

  14. Kim Wheetley

    Working with Joel for many years at the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts was always a pleasure. He was kind and positive in his relationship with the staff and was a creative and diligent art educator. His work has informed and inspired hundreds of teachers and students. Joel will be missed but never forgotten.

  15. I came across the newspaper article about our Bible Bowl team’s win in Jax when I was looking for something a few months ago. Joel was a smart man and a competitor. He will be missed.

  16. Remembering him as the greatest host dad ever, I am devastated to find out that Joel has left this earth. With his art and humor he had enriched many lifes and thaught me to look at life from another perspective (just as he observed art) and to focus on the bright side! I will truely miss him and my prayers are with his family, especially with Nancy, Sarah and Maddy ❤

  17. My prayers for Joel’s family as they negotiate both grief and joy at his passing. My work with Joel at the Center was always filled with his great questioning and articulate reasoning. I was always inspired by his artistic eye and skill. Peace for your passing, my friend.

  18. Much peace and love to Joel’s family and loved ones. Joel was an inspiration and a dedicated teacher. I am so grateful for the small amount of time I had to learn from him.

  19. What a wonderful man who made life better for everyone he came in contact with. One of the few bright lights in this world. He will be missed and I wish peace for him and his family. His is truly a “Life Well Lived”.

  20. Dr. Joel Baxley impacted my life in many ways. I had the honor of working with him during my entire tenure at SCEA. It will be hard entering my 12th year at the center without him and his constant encouragement, smiles, and creativity. As I think through how Joel inspired me and others, I find myself revisiting a collection of memories over the past few years. All of these “Remember when Joel…” moments encompass so much joy. He was always excited to jump into any arts learning experience and do anything to support his colleagues and students. What I admired most about him was his endless hunger to learn. He always wanted to participate in his colleague’s programs, so he could see things from another artistic discipline’s perspective. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone so dear, but his impact will live forever.

  21. The word I think of when I think of Joel is peace. His is one of the most serene and patient people we know. His and Nancy’s faith is a deep and abiding one, the sort that transcends this world. It’s how I know they will remain connected for all eternity. Joel’s ability to tap into and draw out the humanness in people is a rare gift we were blessed to receive. We are honored to call him friend and the legacy he leaves is profound. In this year of turmoil his gift of peace was unmatched. A conversation with Joel always brought wisdom and perspective. We will miss those long conversations over dinner about nothing and everything. He is a consummate teacher and his lessons will endure. Love to Nancy, Sarah, Maddy and family. Love, the Shumperts

  22. Congratulations to Joel on his entrance into the “Real World!” I imagine that you are having an amazing homecoming after fighting the good fight and finishing your race. I am so deeply moved and inspired by your legacy, your beautiful love story with Nancy, and your lovely two daughters. Your life will leave eternal ripples of goodness in all the many it has touched. Dear Nancy, Sarah, and Maddy – I love you and am praying for you and your family in this time of grief. May God give you His Peace that passes all understanding. ❤️🙏🏻

  23. Nancy, I am praying for you and your girls. I am so sad for you that you have lost your soulmate here on this earth, but we can be comforted by the fact that he now has a perfect body in Heaven! Joel was a special person, especially for the work he did with children. Love ya’ll!

  24. Joel’s precious spirit and enthusiasm for the Arts is an example that continues to serve and show compassion and willingness to help others. As Albert Schweitzer said “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Joel’s teaching example lives on in our hearts and minds. Joel will be truly missed.

  25. Joel was a high school classmate of mine. Such a kind, talented, and witty individual. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this season of grieving and loss. May God bless, comfort, and keep each of you.~ jenn

  26. We are so stunned at Joel’s passing. May the Lord bless you and keep you during this season of life. We are so very sorry for your loss.

  27. Nancy and daughters, the best tribute we can bring is that Kimberely mentioned how great a teacher Joel was and I agree! same as a song leader although both roles were outside his in his profession but definitely most important in his life–talk tomorrow–Chuck Tomlin

  28. We just heard about this today. it’s been a while since We’ve seen Joel and his family but We remember him fondly. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. We still live in the same house but the neighborhood has changed quite a bit. I remember the pictures Joel used to draw while the other boys played stick ball. Love to you all. Larry and Lana Boone

  29. I first met Joel when he came to do a workshop for us on Arts Integration in Texarkana, Texas at our Regional Arts Center. What a gentleman he was . He was so kind to our teacher clients, many of whom were terrified of the visual arts. As a visual artist myself, I appreciated Joel’s insights into our art form and his efficient presentation style. As a parting gift to the entire education staff he created caricatures of each of us. I now use mine as my visual logo for my national arts education work as a teaching artist. When I look at it I always think of him.

  30. I was friends with Joel in high school and I only just now found out about his passing through doing a web search, so this will affect me for awhile. I have also read that he had glioblastoma, and I have read some studies saying that regular use of antihistamines in people prone to allergies can significantly raise glioblastoma risk. Did Joel regularly use antihistamines, and did he have serious allergy problems?

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