Joseph J. Semien

December 27, 1930January 10, 2018

A CELEBRATION OF LOVE AND REMEBRANCE To know a person who serves as an inspiration to all whom he contacts is to be blessed with a unique privilege. Such a privilege has been ours for over a period of 87 years. Joseph Jules Semien was born in Lebeau, Louisiana on December 27, 1930 to Samuel Simien and Blanche Goudeau Simien. Joe accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. He attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Lebeau, LA. The only boy and the oldest child, his mother and four sisters doted on him. In return, Joe adored his family and often reminisced about his days on the farm in Lebeau.

At the age of fifteen, Joe moved to Texas in search of a career. He moved to Houston in 1947 where his uncle O’Neal Goudeau recruited him to work at Lockwood Inn Barbecue Restaurant. In 1947, Joe also met Mary Savoy, and they were united in holy matrimony on December 18, 1949. Joe and Mary were married for 55 years and to this union, seven children were born.

Joe spent three years in the United States Army during the Korean War. When he returned, he attended Texas Southern University while working at Lockwood Inn. Joe tirelessly worked other jobs, including being an active member of the Air Force Reserves, taxi driver, private school bus operator, dog breeder and house painter, to support his wife and children. All seven of his children attended college.

In 1968, Joe began running Lockwood Inn. While carrying on his uncle O’Neal’s barbecue legacy, Joe made the business his own by featuring Mary Semien’s Creole dishes and desserts and developing a successful catering business. Lockwood Inn was an essential part of the Greater Houston Community. It was frequented by the Houston elite, including Howard Hughes, Oscar Holcombe, members of the Cullen Family, Marvin Zindler, Mickey Leland, members of Houston’s distinguished legal community, including Percy Foreman, Joe Jamail, Mike and Dick Deguerin, and celebrities, including Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Posten, Mickey Gilley, members of the Houston Oilers and the Houston Rockets, boxing greats, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Tommy Hearns, and former Houston wrestling greats, such as Paul Bosch, Tiger Conway, Bull Curry, Danny McShane and Wahoo McDaniel. Several local TV personalities also dined at Lockwood Inn including Dave Ward, Bob Boudreaux, Tom Dickerson and Melanie Lawson to name a few. However, it was the regulars who ate lunch there everyday and the generations of families that regularly ate dinner there that made Lockwood Inn successful.

Joe was featured on the “Live at Five” television show, Marvin Zindler’s Favorite Restaurants, Texas Monthly Magazine, the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Post, Greater Houston Official Visitor’s Guide, the Dallas Morning News and various radio shows.

Lockwood Inn was more than a business—it was a family affair. All of Joe’s seven children worked at the “Place”, as it was often referred to, at one time or another. He also employed many extended family members and friends. Joe was committed to providing community service to Fifth Ward, Kashmere Gardens and Denver Harbor. Lockwood Inn was an anchor in the Fifth Ward community. The restaurant supported local little league teams and hired and mentored Phyllis Wheatley High School students as well. Joe served as a judge at the BBQ Cook-Off at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He was also known for his generosity and giving free meals to the homeless or anyone in need. All in all, Joe’s career spanned more than 49 years.

Although it’s been many years, people still request the secret family BBQ sauce recipe. All to no avail. The secret recipe remains a safely guarded family secret. To this day, Lockwood Inn and Lockwood Inn recipes are still actively searched for and discussed topics on social media forums.

Outside of Lockwood Inn, Joe enjoyed automobiles, hunting, fishing, gardening and spending time with his family and friends. In spite of city ordinances or any homeowners association, Joe always maintained a “farm” wherever he lived. Joe professed that there was no place like home, but he did accompany his beautiful and charismatic wife, Mary, on trips to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Canada, New York City, California, Lake George, New York, New Orleans and several other cities. Joe was always quick with a story or a joke. If you ever needed to be lifted up, all you had to do was call Joe or visit him. He had an unusual way of making people laugh at themselves and their situations.

Joe was a member of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church and later joined St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. He provided support to the Church’s annual bazaar and donated barbecue to church patrons. Later, he became a member of Faith Deliverance Church and Windsor Village United Methodist Church.

After Joe’s wife passed away, he was devastated, but he maintained the mantle as patriarch for his family. He often said, “I did not know what to do without Mary,” but he leaned on the everlasting arms of Jesus to carry him during his time of grieving. Following Mary’s death, his daughters tried to comfort him by preparing some of his favorite meals that Mary used to cook for him. He would always say, “This is really good, but not as good as your mother’s. No one can cook as well as Mary.”

We are all recipients of his genuine humanity as he was committed to the development of those around him. Joe gave countless people their first job and/or a second chance. In his retirement, he stood ready to help ferry his grandchildren to school and afterschool activities. Joe also attended school performances, games and graduations of his family members all over Houston. He will be missed by all who knew him for his humor, quick wit and unparalleled sense of family and friends.

Joe departed this life on January 10, 2018. He leaves to cherish his memories, his children, Deborah Ann Parry, Elizabeth Marie Semien, Alvin Joseph Semien, Bernard Anthony Semien (Anita Maria), Pamela Semien Williams (Michael Von), and David Paul Semien (Andrea Patrice); siblings, Rosemary Henry, Agnes Thornton, and Rita Williams; nine grandchildren: Collette Semien, Lekeshia Semien-Williams, Nicole Semien-Randall, Carrie Semien-Carter, Kristen Williams Golden, Amber Williams, Christopher Semien, Ryan Semien and Adam Semien; eight great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Joe was preceded in death by his wife Mary Savoy-Semien, daughter, Bernadette Antonia Semien, father Samuel Simien, mother Blanche Simien, and sister Patricia Semien Andress.


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, January 27, 2018

  • Graveside Service

    Saturday, January 27, 2018


Joseph J. Semien

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lopez Family

March 2, 2018

My condolences to the family; may you all rely on God for guidance, support, understanding, and peace (2 Cor 1:3).

January 28, 2018

To all the Semien Family, you are in my prayers. May the peace of God and the Holy Spirit be your Comforter.
With love, your cousin.
Julia E. (Goudeau) Bob

Peter Oreal Babineaux Jr

January 26, 2018

My condolences to the Semien family that I know to well I was there next door neighbor and worked at the Lockwood Inn from a young man in school to college and I would ride with Mr. Joe to work in the morning and he would take care of me as if i was one of his children and give me knowledge on life. I will miss him so much and remember the things he thought me. God Bless from little Jr.

Rose Johnson-Kitchen

January 26, 2018

To the Deborah, Elizabeth, Alvin, Pamela, Bernard, and David. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your families in the loss of your father. I met Mr. Joseph thru Liz when I began working weekends at Lockwood Inn. Then he found out I also had family in LA. It was on then because we knew some of the same people. He will truly be missed. Be strong in the Lord and cherish the memories.

Joyce LaMothe Douglas

January 25, 2018

Elizabeth,Deborah,Pamela, and the entire Semien Family: I'm so very sorry to hear that your father, and loved one, has made his transition from earth. I offer my sincere condolences, and pray that God will provide comfort to everyone.

Richard Parrish

January 24, 2018

Sorry to hear of the passing of Mr Semein. My father introduced our family to the Lockwood Inn. I remember coming to the Lockwood Inn for some of his best BBQ. He was a big man with a big heart and he knew BBQ. My boys still compare today's BBQ with the Lockwood Inn and Mr Semein's mastery. No one holds a candle to his work! Thank you for so many wonderful memories. Rest in the peace and love of our Lord.

Pearl Greene

January 24, 2018

Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved father.

May his soul rest in peace.

Marlene London

January 22, 2018

Sincere condolences to the entire Semien family in the loss of their loved one. In the days to come, may you find peace and rest in the cherished memories.

January 22, 2018

Please accept my heartfelt condolences for the passing of your dear loved one. When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure in your heart and it lives forever. May the wonderful treasures fill your heart with love and bring you peace.

Maureen Pradia

January 21, 2018

To Elizabeth, Deborah, Pam, and all of the entire Semien family I give my heartfelt condolences to you. May your father Josesph rest in peace. Amen