Cover photo for Joseph Henry Happe, Jr.'s Obituary

Joseph Henry Happe, Jr.

August 3, 1935 — June 6, 2024

Charleston, SC

Joseph Henry Happe, Jr.

Joseph Henry Happe, Jr., 88 of Charleston, South Carolina, passed away at home on Thursday, June 6, 2024. 


Joseph was born on August 3, 1935, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the late Louise Happe (Woulfe) and Joseph Henry Happe. He graduated from the William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia in 1954. Joe excelled in high school football earning All City for two consecutive years and was the first recipient of the Joseph Geiss III Memorial Trophy. Joe subsequentially earned a football scholarship at the University of Kentucky. He married Merle Bennett during the summer of 1955, with whom he soon began to raise their family of five children. Joe quickly worked his way up the ladder at the Hertz Corporation. He left the Hertz Corporation for a stint to start his own rental car company in downtown Philadelphia when his proposed transfer to New York City, he felt, would not be in the best interests of his family. Joe returned to Hertz Corporation when the kids were grown to finish his career as Vice President, retiring at the age of 71. Joe and Merle built their retirement home on lovely Dataw Island, near Beaufort SC, where they lived until relocating to Charleston in 2021. Joe will be remembered for his encyclopedic knowledge and passion for college football, American History, particularly WWII, and gracious hosting to his many friends and family. 


Joseph is preceded in death by his father Joseph Henry Happe, his mother Louise Woulfe Happe, several aunts and uncles, especially close were Lillian Chock, Dorothy Cooke, and Marion Stilwell, his grandson Daniel Joseph Happe Jenkins, and his beloved son-in-law, Ellis Milton Hughes Hanson, IV.


Joseph is survived by his wife of 69 years, Merle Bennett Happe, daughters Patricia Jenkins Happe (Kurt), Joan Bennett Happe, and M Joyce Happe Hanson, and sons Joseph Henry Happe, III (Lisa) and James Hutchison Happe (Kerry). He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. 


Joe’s wishes were to celebrate his life with family only. 


In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sea Island Presbyterian Church, PO Box 966 Beaufort, SC 29901, or a charity of your choice in Joe’s name. 

Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at 


Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to McAlister-Smith Funeral and Cremation - James Island, 347 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412, 843-224-8362.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph Henry Happe, Jr., please visit our flower store.


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