Joseph Wayne Rochelle, 85, passed away peacefully on November 21, 2023 after a gradual decline in health. He and his wife, Fay Rochelle of 63 years, are co-owners of Rochelle Farms in Lonoke, AR. Their farm was among the first to begin farming rice in Lonoke County.
Joe Wayne graduated with honors from Lonoke High School in 1956 and went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Little Rock University, now UALR. His first job was a schoolteacher in math and bookkeeping at Lonoke. It wasn’t long before he took a promotion as an accountant with Pfeifer Blass (now Dillard’s corporate offices). Following this, he became a personnel officer for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. The Internal Revenue Service eventually recruited him as a special agent dealing in criminal fraud cases and tax audits. He retired early from the IRS and joined Rochelle Farms with his father until he retired at the age of 62. Joe Wayne always had a story to tell about the Rochelle Dairy and the farm. As a child, he would spend his days duck hunting & crappie fishing with his grandfather, Walter Rochelle, whom he adored. His grandfather owned the Rochelle Dairy on Hwy 70 and Joe Wayne would get up every morning before school at 4:30 a.m. to help his grandfather milk the cows and deliver fresh milk to Lonoke homes. He used to walk the rice levees and hand pull coffee beans and morning glories before crop dusters began spraying their farm for weeds.
He loved easy listening and southern gospel music. He had what many called “that Rochelle talent”. He could play a piano and sing beautiful harmony without ever having taken a lesson. His children and grandchildren remember that he could read a book to them and make it come to life, especially the Christmas Story. Some of his best days were spent traveling the route of Lewis and Clark, all the way from Monticello, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. He became a scholar in the Lewis and Clark expeditions and was asked to travel nationwide giving talks to professional groups.
In his elder years, every day at 3:00 p.m., he would go to the gym at Lonoke Community Center and workout. He jogged 4 miles every other day down to the ball park or the fish hatchery. He 100% believed that cardiovascular exercise was the key to staying healthy physically and mentally. If you knew Joe Wayne, you knew that the hardest thing he ever had to do was grieve over losing his son, Dr. Joe Miles Rochelle. For years, he mentored other families who were experiencing that same type of pain.
The thing you had to love about Joe Wayne was his tenacity and his crooked little grin. He was incredibly smart and always worked to treat others fairly. One of his greatest joys in life was sitting down to one of Fay’s delicious meals, watching his grandkids play sports and going out to dinner.
Those who have gone on before him are his parent’s, Joe and Jewell Rochelle, and his son, Dr. Joe Miles Rochelle. Those left to cherish his memory include his wife Fay Rochelle, daughter Laura Wheat-Gregg (Bob), son Stan Rochelle, sister Carolyn Dyson, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
The graveside service will be held for family and friends on Friday, December 1, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at Sunset Memorial Gardens, 1590 US-Hwy 70, Lonoke, AR. Memorials may be sent in Joe Wayne Rochelle’s memory to the Lonoke Community Center, 1355 Front St SW, Lonoke, AR 72086 or the Apostolic Church, P.O. Box 373, Lonoke, AR 72086.