Remembering Joe Greco

By  | 
Greco2bBy Mia Freneaux
Photos submitted by the Greco family
Though he could list many achievements by the time he retired from public service, former Councilman Joe Greco listed the one that came to fruition after he left office as his greatest.  The Central Thruway was a dream he pursued for years, and in 2013 he saw its fulfillment.  The part that meant the most to him was the chance to name the bridge after his late wife of 52 years, to whom, with the good Lord, he credited with all his success – Joan.   
Joseph Victor Anthony Greco was born in Tickfaw in 1933.  He received a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Mississippi, where he met his future wife, Joan Reaves.   He married his college sweetheart, and after Joe served with the U.S. Army, they moved to Baton Rouge.  There they opened Greco’s Drug Store and had four sons, Perry, Kelly, Andy and Brian.  With an eye toward the needs of his community, Joe turned his drug store into the Greco Pet and Veterinary Supply, and became the first pharmacist to fill prescriptions just for animals.  The pharmacy served the Baton Rouge area for over 55 years.
Success with the business enabled Joe to pursue what interested him most – public service.  First elected to the Baton Rouge Metro Council in 1992, he represented District 4 (Central) for four consecutive terms, serving under 3 different Mayors and as Mayor Pro-Tempore in his final term.  “I learned a lot early on,” Joe later remembered, “then later I ran a stern ship trying to get agendas passed.  I really enjoyed it.”  In addition, Joe sat on the boards of the East Baton Rouge Parish Capital Region Planning Commission, the East Baton Rouge Parish Airport Commission, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, and the Central Chamber of Commerce, where he became Board Member Emeritus.  
Joe’s proudest achievement, the Central Thruway Development Project, took 20 years of fighting to see come to fruition.  The project had been tabled off and on for years, and only came into being after Joe was termed out of office, but it exists today due to his determined, unrelenting efforts. “I was ecstatic when that tax passed,” Joe once shared enthusiastically, “I got such a thrill seeing each phase of the progress!”   A guest of Mayor Watts and Mayor Holden, Joe was honored at the ribbon cutting ceremony. A bridge on the thruway is named in memory of Joan, who died of cancer in 2007.  He was the first to cross that bridge.  “I was just destined to do it,” Joe explained at the time, “You have to take up for your people that elected you.”
Joe and Joan were committed to community service and are fondly remembered for their generosity and care for their neighbors.  Their sons remember how Joe would tell them to load up groceries to deliver to folks less fortunate at Thanksgiving,  how he raised them to treat everyone with honesty, dignity and respect, how he time and again helped others selflessly with no thought of repayment.  His daughter in law Marie shared a favorite memory: “Mr. Joe and I were in Whole Foods one day.  A young lady (about 30 years old) came up to him and said, ‘Mr. Greco, you don’t know who I am, but when I was young, my mother couldn’t afford my medicine and you gave it to her without ever asking her to pay it back.’”  One of Joe’s favorite sayings:  “I never met a stranger.”
Joe passed away on June 30 at St. James Retirement Community and his funeral was conducted at the church he loved and served so faithfully – St. Alphonsus Catholic Church.  He was not only a terrific role model to his sons, but also to his numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Looking back on his life, Joe once said, “I enjoyed what I did. I enjoyed so much serving the community for 50 plus years and doing what I could to help the people and their pets.  I want to thank the Central community for all of their support throughout those years.  I’ve had a blessed life.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.