May 23, 1949 — May 7, 2024

Fort Worth

Joseph William Ulrickson, better known as “Papa Joe,” “Big Joe,” “Coach Joe,” or simply “Joe,” went to be with our Lord the evening of May 7, 2024, surrounded by family and friends. Joe was larger than life to all he met. Although towering at 6’4” with a large voice, he was a gentle giant and always there for his family and many friends in times of happiness and need.

Joe was born May 23, 1949, and raised in Fort Worth by his mother, Varina, an artist and grand pianist and father, Albin, an attorney. Although he could play the piano by ear, basketball was his love, playing at Trinity Valley, and graduating from Paschal High School. He went on to play at Texas Wesleyan University prior to joining the Fort Worth Fire Department and ultimately became one of Fort Worth’s finest custom home builders.

Joe’s memory lives on, not only in the many homes he built and remodeled, but in the many people his life touched. He continued his love for basketball by coaching Brooke and Beth, his two daughters’ AAU teams, often personally sponsoring players. More recently, he could be found teaching his grandkids his basketball moves along with their friends. He loved watching the Texas Woman University Pioneers and providing his “tips” to the players after the game. Several weeks ago, he was overjoyed to watch Beth, the head coach, take them to the National Championship.

In addition to basketball, Joe was a heavy hitter for the Championship Softball Team “Happy Hour.” This love continued by coaching the Junior Woman’s Club Omniana to multiple Minor League Championships. Joe also dabbled in country western dancing but liked west coast swing the best, which is how he met his wife, Debbie. Together they danced around Fort Worth and enjoyed the many dances and parties at the Fort Worth Petroleum Club. Still competitive from his younger days, Joe delighted in playing dominoes with the guys, and he won the last four games he played. There was not a lot Joe could not do!

“Going to the farm” was another activity Joe adored. He was often found honking his horn to wrangle his cows, on the bulldozer building another tank, or hunting turkey, deer, or hogs. Unfortunately, he was never able to catch the “big one” from his large tank in Graham, but he knew they were in there because in true Joe style he fed them to help them grow.

Joe was strong, but gentle; he was a force, but a teddy bear. Joe came to know so many people and enjoyed connecting them with each other. Often, he roped his friends and sons-in-law into helping with special projects. As one of his friends and subcontractors said, “Joe was one of the greatest men I ever knew. He had a heart as big as he was … he would yell at me and then turn around and give me a hug. He never judged; he just loved….” Another said, “Joe was always so happy to hear about my girls and listen to all my stories. He made me a better father, and he loved his girls so much too.”

Proud of his daughters and his grandkids, he attended so many games, shows, and events. He was the loudest and proudest papa! Joe was also their number one cheerleader whether it was in the stands yelling basketball advice to Beth and her players or asking people to sign Brooke’s campaign petitions and putting up signs. He and Debbie joined the Fort Worth Republican Women as well and even stood at the polls!

Joe is survived by his loving wife, Debbie; his daughter, the Honorable Brooke Allen and her husband, Cameron; his daughter, Beth Jillson and her husband, Zane; his grandchildren, Madison, Paxton, and Cami; Debbie’s daughter, Christy Dougan, and granddaughter, Annie Gibson and her husband, Blake; and so many wonderful friends. He was predeceased by his mother and father, Varina and Albin Ulrickson, and his brother, John Ulrickson. In lieu of flowers, Joe would want you to write a letter of thankfulness and love to your family and friends. Donations to continue his love of basketball may be made in his memory to Texas Woman’s University Foundation – TWU Pioneer Basketball.

Family and friends will gather from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 14th at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1800 West Freeway, Fort Worth, with a Celebration of His Life beginning at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow. A Committal Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 15th, in the Mausoleum at Greenwood Memorial Park in Fort Worth.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of JOSEPH WILLIAM "Joe" ULRICKSON, please visit our flower store.


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