The community recently lost a man of integrity who donated much of his time to Oxford Village and the area youth, with the passing of B.J. “Joe” Bullen on July 29, 2023. He was 89 years old.
Joe was born on June 20, 1934, on the family farm in east Tennessee. He worked hard on the farm and enjoyed playing basketball for Washburn High School. Joe graduated in 1951 at the age of 16 and enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There he was first introduced to the military by being a member of the ROTC. He had to leave and return to the farm to take care of his ailing mother. Later, Joe then came to Michigan to work at GM in Pontiac, where he got his draft letter.
In 1956 he joined the U.S. Air Force and spent the bulk of his career at USAFE at Ramstein AFB in West Germany during some of the darkest years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. At Ramstein he met Lanette Ham from Georgia, who was a civilian secretary on base. When they returned separately to the states, they were married on April 9, 1961, and moved to Oxford, where Joe resumed his career at GM Truck & Coach in Pontiac. Joe started on the assembly line and retired 42 years later as an executive.
Joe was a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Oxford for many years. He was a public servant as president of the Oxford Village Council for 13 years. In 2018, Oxford Village presented Joe with a seven page resolution of recognition for 40 years of service to the village in various capacities.
Perhaps his proudest endeavor was coaching high school basketball for 32 seasons, first at Oxford Christian Academy and then at Lake Orion Baptist School. His players won countless league championships and tournaments, and the OCA Warriors won state championships in 1985 and 1993. He always viewed his role as a coach of young men as being one of a teacher, above all. Joe and Lanette have been part of the church family at First Baptist Church of Lake Orion for over 20 years.
Joe and Lanette loved being at their villa on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and provided wonderful vacations for their family and friends for 30 years. He also loved working in his vegetable garden and growing the beautiful flowers that reminded him of his mother. Above all, Joe loved his Savior and his wife Lanette, to whom he was married for over 62 years, and his many, many friends and loved ones.
He was and is the epitome of a “people person” who never met a stranger.
Joe Bullen is survived by his wife Lanette, his daughters Joanne Knowlton (Phillip) and Susan McCullough (Marc), as well as one son Greg (Renee), seven grandchildren: Lauren Knowlton Fusilier (Matthew), Meredith Knowlton Bradley (Jaron), Katherine Knowlton, Bailey A. Bullen (Chayse), Julia K. Bullen, Noble McCullough, and Manon McCullough, as well as four great-grandboys (Charlie, Oliver, Felix, and Calvin Fusilier).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the First Baptist Church of Lake Orion.
Visitation will take place at Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, 39 W. Burdick, Oxford on Wednesday, August 2, from 3-8 p.m. The funeral service will take place at The First Baptist Church of Lake Orion, 255 E Scripps Rd, Lake Orion on Thursday, August 3, at 11 a.m. with visitation beginning at the church at 10 a.m.