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Family, friends remember beloved ‘Papa Joe’

Dr. Joe Berry Cannon, 77, passed away unexpectedly Sept. 9 in his Tulsa home.

Cannon’s loved ones describe him as encouraging, compassionate, gentle, wise and funny. While all of these words were synonymous with his character, “loving” is the word everyone used to define “Papa Joe.”

He brought healing not only through his hands, but also his heart.

Before joining the faculty of ORU, Cannon owned and served as president of First National Bank in Blackwell, Okla.

In 1981, Cannon ran for mayor of Blackwell, and held the office for three years before going back to full-time banking.

Feeling a call to teach, Cannon sold First National Bank and began applying for teaching positions.

His experience and passion made him a perfect fit for the ORU college of business. Cannon joined the faculty in August 1992 and made ORU his home for 20 years.

“He was the kind of person who walked down the hall and stopped in almost every office to spread joy,”  said Terry Unruh, assistant professor of accounting. Unruh worked with Cannon for the past decades.

“[He was there]to encourage us, ask how we’re doing, tell a joke; he was just always full of life,” Unruh said.

Unruh said Cannon had the joy of the Lord. “No matter what he might be facing, there was a twinkle in his eye and a big booming laugh.”

A service was held in Cannon’s honor Sept. 13 at St. James United Methodist Church. Family, friends and colleagues attended to pay tribute.

Cannon is survived by his wife of 52 years, Beverly Cannon; two sons, Joe Cannon II and John Cannon; daughter, Courtney Megli; and eight grandchildren, all of whom spoke at the service.

The eldest of Cannon’s children, Joe Cannon II, spoke passionately about his father.

“Dad had many important values which were as true and natural to his behavior as the air he breathed,” Cannon said. “He was a champion for his children. He truly loved us all.”

His grandson, Austin Megli, spoke of the unmatchable faith Cannon had in his family.

“My grandfather was a remarkable man,” Megli said. “Through all of his life, though he accomplished many great things, in my eyes his greatest

accomplishment was making me believe that I could achieve anything. My entire life, all I ever heard was how proud he was of me, how much he loved me, and how much he cared about me.”

Not only was Joe Cannon beloved by his family, friends and colleagues, Cannon also had a love for ORU.

“Dr. Cannon loved this place. Talking with his family at the services, he never wanted to leave here,” Unruh said. “Even our chairman [asked] him once ‘why do you teach so much?’ because he had taught in the summer and taught his regular load in the semester.”

Megli stated how Cannon was motivated by the relationships and work environment at ORU.

“It was really that he was energized by the people here; the students, the faculty, the administration. He just absolutely loved being at ORU.”

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