Joseph Blaine Sabal Sr.1

Male, #39868, (4 Aug 1884 - May 1979)
Birth*4 Aug 1884 Joseph was born at Germany on 4 Aug 1884. Joe Sabal's grandson, Tom Sabal, says Joe was from Germany. He grew up and lived in Pittsburgh, PA for many years.2 
Marriage*circa 1913 He married Maude Gibbs circa 1913. 
Birth of Son7 Nov 1915 His son Joseph Blaine Sabal Jr. was born on 7 Nov 1915 at Pennsylvania.2 
Marriage*19 Jun 1950 He married Alma Howe at Clearwater, Pinellas Co., Florida, on 19 Jun 1950 at age 65.3 
Photographed*circa 1955 He was photographed circa 1955 at Saint Petersburg, Pinellas Co., Florida.4,5
Joe Sabal & Alma (Howe) Payne Sabal
Death2 Sep 1959 Joseph became a widower upon the death of his wife Alma Howe at Montgomery Co., Alabama, on 2 Sep 1959; of cancer.1 
News Article*27 Aug 1963 Joseph B. Sabal wears his iron-grey hair in a crew cut. His big hands look powerful and he can prove they are. There is a wrinkle or two, but no more, in his tanned face, He is 79.

He plays 18 holes of golf every weekend--on his 79th birthday he played 27. He competed in this year's Walk-a-Thon, finishing in good time despite a blister caused by wearing the wrong type of shoe.

"I don't want to be made ridiculous," he said, modestly. "I'm just a man who has kept himself in shape--don't want to seem like I'm boastful or anything."

Names such as Henry Ford and Arnold Palmer reside prominently in Sabal's memory.

In 1906, Henry Ford promised Sabal the Ford franchise for Pennsylvania if Sabal could find a financial backer. At the time, Sabal says, the Ford was expensive and the worst car in the world," An owner was fortunate if his Ford would take him 30 miles to the next town, he says.

Then Henry Ford began building an inexpensive little machine which nearly anyone could afford--the Model T. Sabal was convinced the new car would sell, so he found a backer and promised him Pennsylvania for a small investment. They 'went to Ford with the offer.

And Sabal had been right -- the car began selling. He and his angel were shown a good-sized room filled waist-deep with order slips for the Model T. Ford offered them, not Pennsylvania, but Allegheny County. The investor, disappointed, seemed to vanish in a puff of smoke and with him Sabal's chances.

"Maybe it was a good thing," Sabal says now, "because I'd have made so much money I might not have lived through it.

He knew Arnold Palmer when the golfer "was in knee-pants." Palmer's father was pro at the club where Sabal used to play, and was training young Arnie in the game. The young Palmer was good even then, Sabal recalls.

"The trouble Arnie's father used to have with him was keeping him interested in the game. So he'd take the boy's clubs away from him for a week or so -- that would do it!"

Sabal himself is an inveterate golfer. In days past, he of ten played 36 holes in a day. Now he generally plays 18.

He played on a St. Petersburg par-three course recently with two friends - and on the second hole one of those fantastic oddities of sport occurred. Sabal said he never saw it happen before and never expects to see it again.

The first two players were on the green with one stroke each. Then Sabal shot a hole in one. And then each of the other players one-putted. The total number of strokes for the hole, for all players combined, was five.

"It's something for Ripley's Believe-It-or-Not," he said.

Sabal wants to remain active: I think it's the worst thing in the world to sit around on these benches."

He recalled a man he knew here five years ago. "He was dapper and neat - and very intelligent. He used to stop in here at the stand every once in a while."

"I saw him again not long ago," he went on. "He wasn't wearing socks and had a hole in his shoe. I was afraid to speak to him because I could see he had lost so much of his mental faculties."

"I'd hate to have anything crippling happen to me," he said.

"If I kick out on a green playing golf, it'll suit me fine," he added with a grin.

A friend asked Sabal recently: "Why in the world did you enter that Walk-a-Thon on such a hot day?"

"Well, I couldn't pick the day," Sabal replied.

He covered the first half of the 9.2 mile course in an hour and five minutes, but then a blister began to bother him and he had to finish at a more leisurely gait. He and a 22-year-old girl crossed the finish line together.

Proud of his physical condition, Sabal attributes it to the fact that he doesn't "abuse" his body.

"I don't make a religion of it, but I do watch my diet. I drink .a small glass of carrot , and celery juice every day -- we don't get enough fresh vegetables," he said.

A typical day for Sabal starts at 7 a.m. After breakfast, he works in the yard of his 19th Street North home until about 11 a.m. Then he showers and walks a mile or two. He has lunch downtown.

He drops in at his club to play two or three games of shuffleboard, rests for a while and goes to work.

From three to nine in the evening he works behind the counter at Chet's Cigars across from the Open Air Post Office.

One day not long ago, he was working at his counter when three or four husky young men came in. The youths were somewhat rowdy, and Sabal asked them to quiet down.

"Listen to that grey-haired old guy," said one of the boys, loudly enough for Sabal to overhear him.

Sabal went to the soft-drink machine, got a bottle and a half-dozen bottle caps. He walked quietly to the boys and handed each one a cap, then placed the bottle between them.

"Watch," he said.

Sabal grasped the cap in one hand between thumb and a forefinger, crumpled it shut like a clamshell and dropped it into the bottle. The boys tried it, groaning and sweating.

Then they gave up and grinned, evidently getting the point.

"Those boys came back lots of times since then," Sabal recalled. "And they brought their friends."

"I had to demonstrate for their buddies each time," he chuckled.

This reporter must have looked skeptical about the tale. Sabal offered to demonstrate, and in a few moments six crushed bottle caps lay on the counter between us.6 
Death*May 1979 He died at Saint Petersburg, Pinellas Co., Florida, in May 1979 at age 94.2 
Biography* Joe told his step-grandson, Warren Culpepper, that he had qualified in track for the first Olympics, but he couldn't raise the money to attend. He had moved to St. Petersburg, FL prior to 1950 when he married Alma there.4 

Family 1

Maude Gibbs (circa 1887 - )
Marriage*circa 1913 He married Maude Gibbs circa 1913. 

Family 2

Alma Howe (3 Apr 1893 - 2 Sep 1959)
Marriage*19 Jun 1950 He married Alma Howe at Clearwater, Pinellas Co., Florida, on 19 Jun 1950 at age 65.3 
Last Edited31 Jan 2011


  1. Harry Stuart Culpepper and Alma Elaine Payne Ancestors, Culpepper/Payne Family Bible, Steven Edward Culpepper, owner, Sandy Springs, GA, (2005).
  2. U.S. Social Security Administration, compiler, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Online database at
  3. Marriage Certificate.
  4. Warren L. Culpepper (#1942), Former publisher of Culpepper Connections, e-mail address.
  5. E-mail written 2000 to Warren L. Culpepper from Brenda Payne Keel (#38758), Blountstown, FL, (Deceased 2007).
  6. From the Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, 27 Aug 1963.