Cover photo for Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown's Obituary
Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown Profile Photo

Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown

November 16, 1976 — November 15, 2023

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown

Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown, former Mayor of San Angelo, 47, passed away of a heart attack on Friday, November 15, 2023, in his home in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

He was born November 16, 1976, in San Angelo to George W. Lown and Alicia Booth Lown, a love story that began across borders.  His maternal grandparents were also united cross culturally, Alicia Elizondo of Torreon, Mexico, & Daniel Booth originally from Mobile, Alabama.

Joseph is survived by his sister Alicia V. Lown of San Angelo, and by his husband Eduardo Mora, and beloved Schnauzer Maya, of San Miguel de Allende.

Joseph was first elected Mayor of San Angelo in May, 2003, at the age of twenty-six. He was one of the youngest elected mayors in the United States at the time. He was elected for four terms. Despite a majority vote of 89%, he chose not to serve his final term. Instead, he left the United States to start a new life in Mexico with his chosen partner, who because of his immigration status could not remain in Texas. Joseph and Eduardo were legally married in Mexico City on November 16, 2013.  During his time as Mayor of San Angelo, he committed himself to being a full-time mayor, and was known to attend multiple civic events on a daily basis. Most remember him as one of the greatest politicians of his time. He had a magical way of making everyone feel included and special, no matter what their background or social status.

Although Joseph no longer lived in San Angelo, he maintained a deep and abiding affection for his community. He kept in contact with many people and offered support and encouragement, to what extent he was able. He was known for his practice of listening deeply to those around him, and for being a beacon of kindness and courage.  With an open heart that embraced all walks of life, and a spirit that led by example, Joseph touched many lives with his warmth, wisdom, and unyielding love of San Angelo.

His talent for listening helped him to earn a successful career in politics, Mexican law, and as a real estate agent. He expressed that same practice early on at Santa Rita Elementary, John Glenn Junior High, and San Angelo Central High School. After attending Angelo State University, he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Principia College, a small liberal arts college in Elsah, Illinois. An avid golfer in his teens and throughout life, he received awards for maintaining academic excellence while playing a varsity sport.

After graduating from college, Joseph was briefly married to Miranda Tarver, now Miranda Ash, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.  During this time, he joined the Peace Corps and spent 2½ years in Bolivia where he taught entrepreneurial skills to women. This was done in partnership with Aldeas SOS Children’s Village, a global organization that supports women and children at risk.  Through his love of the performing arts, he and his college theater professor Richard Morse, formed a theater troupe with the children from the SOS Children´s Village.  Once he completed his work in Bolivia, they arranged for the Bolivian children to tour the U. S. in a theater production called “Niños de mi Corazón.”  Joseph always loved music and the performing arts, and he and Eduardo enjoyed sponsoring live music performances and theater events in San Miguel.

The entrepreneurial skills that Joseph taught to others came early. As a child, if he wasn’t going door to door selling bullwhips he’d made from leftover carpet scraps and sticks, he ran a lemonade stand. After seeing the carts used for selling food on the streets in Mexico, he asked his mother to have a cart made for his own enterprise. From then on, he brought lemonade to the customers rather than waiting for them to come to him. Later on, the real estate companies he worked with and founded in San Angelo, briefly in Mexico City, and in San Miguel de Allende, were not just businesses. They were his passion. He brought to them the skills and talents, the interests and practices, and the service and sacrifice that made his personal life rich and complete. His clients became life-long friends. “He will remain in our lives,” commented one client recently, “because of the way he lived his.”

While living in San Angelo he frequently walked a local labyrinth at Unity Spiritual Center, a church that his parents helped found.   Joseph was known to travel in search of present-day solutions in the wisdom of the past. He was looking forward to a biblical pilgrimage to Egypt and the Holy Land, with his bible study group. For the past four years he maintained a practice of reading through the Bible once a year, following a precise plan that involved daily selections from the Old and New Testaments. He also wrote morning pages where he summarized his reflections and daily intentions. Since he was always looking for different ways to enrich his spiritual practice, his sister introduced him to Inner Engineering, a discipline of yoga and meditation. This was a daily practice for which they held each other accountable.

Joseph’s determination to include as many people from as wide a spectrum as possible was expressed in the New Year’s Day, “Kumba Ya’ll” open house which he and Eduardo held in San Miguel. It was a bilingual celebration of cross-border relationships. Such hospitality was rooted in the practice of his parents. His father George was the son of Swedish immigrants who had moved to the San Angelo area in the 1940’s, and his mother Alicia, was from Mexico City originally.  The two met in Vienna, Austria through the hospitable efforts of a mutual friend. After marrying and making a home in San Angelo, his mother, who was born in Mexico, made sure to register both of her children in Mexico as dual citizens. The love story that began across borders in the 1930´s with Joseph´s grandparents, Doña Alicia Elizondo of Mexico and Daniel Booth, an engineer from Alabama, who was working in Mexico when he met Alicia and fell in love. Considering the three generations of multicultural love in his family, it was always Joseph´s hope that San Angelo and San Miguel would someday be designated as Sister Cities, connecting the Heart of Texas to the Heart of Mexico.

As we continue our journey, guided by the indelible impressions he left on our hearts, Joseph will always remain an eternal inspiration to us all.  A testament to the incredible impact one life can have and as reminder to come together, unite, and be the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly aspire to be.

A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, February 2, 2024, in San Miguel de Allende, and in San Angelo at 2:00 PM Saturday, February 17, 2024, at the Murphy Performance Hall, 72 W. College Ave.  A reception will follow at the Museum of Fine Arts.

In order to create a legacy and continue Joseph´s passion for the Betterment of Humanity, a memorial fund has been set up with the San Angelo Area Foundation, named the Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown Memorial Fund.  It will be used to further projects and organizations loved by Joseph.

Alicia and Eduardo would like to extend their utmost gratitude for the gracious outpouring of Love & support during this time.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph Wendel (J.W.) Lown, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

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