Joe E. Beverly was born in Thomasville, Georgia. He lived in South Florida where his family was in the produce business until he was 14. The family then returned to Georgia, and he attended Ochlocknee High School until it merged with Thomas County Central High School in 1958. He was in the first graduating class at Thomas County Central and was selected "Mr. Central High School" in 1959.
Beverly received his bachelor's degree in finance from the Terry College in 1963 and his MBA from Terry in 1964. He was a member and officer of Sigma Chi fraternity.
Beverly's civic involvement includes serving as president of the Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce, president of the Brookwood School Board of Trustees, president of the John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital board of trustees, president of W. R. Milton Y.M.C.A. and chairman of the Thomasville Payroll Development Authority.
He is a past board member the University of Georgia Alumni Association and the Terry College Alumni Board. He was a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 1973 and is a former director of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Bankers Association. He is an elder and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church in Thomasville and a member of the Williams Family Foundation Board.
Beverly began his banking career with the First National Bank of Atlanta in 1964 and was elected vice president in 1970. In 1972, he resigned from First National and moved back to Thomasville to assume the duties of president and CEO of Commercial Bank. In 1977, Commercial Bank merged with Synovus Financial Corp. Beverly was elected chairman of Commercial Bank and vice chairman of Synovus in 1990. He retired from Synovus in 1996, though he remains on the board. He has served on the boards of four New York Stock Exchange-listed companies, including Synovus and Flowers Foods.
Beverly is a noted conservationist, having served as chairman of the board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In 2005, he was appointed to the Governor's Land Conservation Council and has served as a director of the Nature Conservancy. He was named Conservationist of the Year by the Georgia Wildlife Federation in 1998 and, in 2004, received the Rock Howard Award from the Department of Natural Resources.