Joseph V. Wise left us entirely too soon on April 30th, 2021. Joe was born on September 17th,
1950 and raised by his grandparents Joseph and Martha Wise in Fowlerville MI. He is survived
by his wife Judy, daughters Jodi (Kevin) McMillan and Jamie Wise, grandchildren Jayla, Jorja,
Joey and Kyler and a multitude of extended family including brothers and sisters in law, many
nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and a number of special friends.
From a very young age Joe found a love for anything fast, his Uncle Art thought that 11 was a
prime age to begin driving and from there Joe was hooked. Whether he was bailing hay, or
sweeping floors there wasn’t a time you would find Joe without a job. He always liked to make
his own way and well, he needed to fund his hobbies! He loved to work on cars, whether it was
him and his buddies buying beaters from the junk yard, just to get them running to see who could
roll them first in the closest farmer’s field, or tweaking motors to get as much speed as possible
to race everyone in town. In high school Joe met Judy Miller, the pretty cheerleader who would
end up stealing his heart, while Judy’s mother may have been less than thrilled with Joe’s
shenanigans, this young couple figured out how to make it work. Joe graduated from
Fowlerville High School in 1969, spending the next year working in Lansing and racing back to
Fowlerville to see his girl who still had one more year to finish, Joe and Judy bided their time
until they could get married, which came to be on August 7th, 1971
Joe decided to forgo the random odd jobs he had been working and went on to Corporate
training, to own and operate his own Standard Oil Gas Station, which he opened in Williamston.
Judy pumped gas while Joe wrenched on cars and ran the roads with the Tow Truck, this was
Joe’s first taste of entrepreneurship. The young couple welcomed their firstborn daughter Jodi in
1974, and bought a house in Williamston, MI. A few years later in 1978 their second daughter
Jamie was born and Joe made the decision to try his hand at sales and found himself at Jack
Dykstra Ford in Lansing. Joe had found his niche, carving out his path he made his way from
salesman to eventually becoming Used Car Manager and making a name for himself in the car
business. After many years, Joe decided that he was a much better boss than he was employee,
so he parted ways with Dykstra and went on to purchase a local party store, that they aptly
named “Wise Stop-N-Shop” which he had Judy run, while he started J & J Rent All, digging
ponds, pools, basements, constructing drain fields or hauling load after load of top soil or gravel.
All the while Joe dreamed of opening his own car dealership. In the summer of 1989, that dream
became a reality and Joe opened Red Cedar Auto Sales. Everything that Joe had went in to
making Red Cedar Auto Sales successful, being known for quality used cars, with unmatched
customer service was something Joe took so much pride in. The customer base that Joe built was
immense, spanning generations in some families and the loyalty that his customers showed him
was almost unheard of in the car business. Never did a Saturday go by without a lobby full of
customers that had turned into friends solving all the world’s problems one coffee and a donut at
There wasn’t much that had a motor that didn’t interest Joe, he was a man of many hobbies and
outlets. He loved to snowmobile, and would only ever ride a Yamaha, there was only one tractor
to have and it was green, if you were going to drive anything, it better be a FORD and preferably
an F-150 and much to his wife’s dismay he developed a passion for flying. Starting with
Experimental Aircrafts, then moving on to get his pilot’s license, (holding the record for shortest
training hours to solo at 3 hours) while Judy never fully understood his obsession she indulged
him and even made the trek every year to Joe’s favorite air show, held in Osh Kosh Wisconsin.
While Joe had held many titles over the course of his life, the one at which he excelled at over
any other was Papa. A stern man, with a booming voice became a big softie when it came to his
grandkids. Jayla was the first to melt his heart and he was hooked from the moment he saw her.
Jorja soon followed with a head full of curls and that infectious giggle that got Papa every time.
A few years later, after all this time a boy, one that was to carry his name, here was Joey, who
loved to tinker in the barn as much as his Papa, then to complete the family came Kyler Grace
who from day one managed to secure Papa directly around her finger with that sweet dimpled
Joe was one in a million, his dedication to his family, his business, and his friends is almost
indescribable. He was a straight to the point kind of guy, you always knew exactly where you
stood with him and he never saw the purpose in sugar coating anything. Always the hardest
working person in the room, he was never able to fully retire, always wanting to stay in the game
that he loved. Over the years he had acquired the nickname “Big Daddy”, never for the actual
size of the man, but strictly the enormous presence in which he filled the room. Joe will be
leaving a void impossible to fill, but we will carry on his memory in everything we do holding
him closely in our hearts remembering that shit eating grin!
We will be saying goodbye for now, Friday May 7th, 2021 with a visitation beginning at 11am
with a service to follow at 1:30pm at A Place of Refuge Ministry in Fowlerville MI. In lieu of
flowers please make a donation to the charity of your choosing.
To send flowers to Joseph's family, please visit our floral store.