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Joe Townsell

William Penn University graduate, Joe Townsell is a person who likes to have many irons in the fire, and has done it successfully at every level. In 1987, Joe earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Physical Education and a minor in History. The WPU alum later earned a Master’s degree from Graceland University.

Growing up in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, Joe was a multi-sport athlete in high school. Participation in a variety of sports built a foundation for Joe’s future. In college he became a standout football player for the Statesmen. He was voted Most Valuable Player and received first team all-conference honors as a running back. Joe cited his football coaches Paul Vosberg and Duane Palsic at Penn as being very inspirational and supportive of him.

Joe taught Physical Education in the Des Moines Public School system from 1987 until 2012. During that time he enjoyed teaching children from elementary age all the way through senior high school. Leadership, experience, and his expertise in physical education landed him in the position of Physical Education Chairperson for the Des Moines Public Schools for a number of years. He led the way for kids by writing grants for new equipment and developing curriculum. When asked what he was most proud of as an educator, Joe replied, “There are two things that I am proud of: I helped to change fitness in the Des Moines Public Schools and my involvement with the Healthy Kids Act.”

Several WPU professors and staff members helped Joe prepare for his success. Dr. Goode’s psychology classes were enjoyable and Joe found them to be valuable. Dr. Schultze in the Education Department at Penn provided meaningful instruction and leadership. Joe mentioned that Dr. Schultze was a great influence on him. Physical Education department professor, Mrs. Armbruster taught Joe a valuable lesson for life.  “Mrs. A really taught me the importance of staying focused if you want to reach your goals.”

Athletic officiating is a passion for Joe. He has been officiating athletic contests for 35 years. He is a certified referee for football, basketball for both boys and girls, and baseball. Honors for a job well done in officiating are given in the form of being awarded state tournament or national level athletic contests to work. Joe is no stranger to officiating post-season play. He has officiated many Iowa High School state football playoff games, state basketball tournaments for both boys and girls, and calling balls and strike in the post season for baseball.

Joe not only works at high school basketball, but at college games at all levels, which include Junior College, NAIA, and NCAA divisions I, II, and III. Joe has officiated the NCAA Division III National Basketball tournament numerous times.  In addition, Joe has been officiating college baseball for a short time. Joe continues to work college and high school games today all except for NCAA division I basketball due to a career change that does not allow him the time.

In 2012, Joe decided to retire from education and take on a new career challenge. He opened a restaurant in Grimes, Iowa, called the Mustang Grill. The Mustang Grill has a unique motif. The restaurant is filled with Dallas Center-Grimes School District Mustang & Fillies athletic memorabilia. Mustangs and Fillies are the mascots for the boys and girls, respectively, at the local DC-G school where Joe resides. “A chance to do something different for a living, connect with the town of Grimes, and support the school, was my motivation for the restaurant.”  Joe added, “I did not want a place like all the other chain restaurants.” The Mustang Grill is certainly not like chain restaurants. One can see old football helmets, state title team photos, uniforms from all the sports, old trophies, and the list goes on and on. Items were donated from patrons from the local school district. Joe mentioned “The outpouring of community support is what I am most happy about. It is wonderful.”

The Mustang Grill is truly a unique place for local residents to enjoy and reflect. Since its opening, unfortunately, two local residents have tragically died. Both people were huge supporters of the school and coached kids in youth sports and were officials themselves. Local residence brought in a framed referee shirt and a framed coaches shirt and asked if they could be placed on the restaurant walls in their memory. A true testament to what The Mustang Grill has become in the community of Grimes under the leadership of Joe Townsell. Joe was more than honored to agree.

The creed on the front of the building sums up the atmosphere that Joe has created for his restaurant, “Good times with friends. Great food with family.” The Mustang Grill is located at 213 SE Main Street, Grimes, Iowa, 50111. Interested patrons can also find The Mustang Grill on Facebook.

Joe resides in Grimes with his family. It will be interesting to see what endeavor Joe comes up with in the future. Whatever it is, it’s a safe bet it will have a positive impact on people. We are very proud to have Joe Townsell as a William Penn Alum.

  • B.A., Physical Education, William Penn University
  • M.A., Physical Education, Graceland University
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