On Tuesday morning, May 1, 2018 the angels came and carried Jo Ann’s soul to a place referred to in Luke 16 as “Abraham’s bosom,” to await the resurrection and judgment. With her passing another connection to my childhood has also been removed. Jo (as all of her friends called her) lived about one quarter mile or less from my home. So I have known Jo for as long as I can remember. Jo and my sister were in the same graduating class at Algood High School. We also went to church together at the Algood Church of Christ. As a kid, I was introduced to homemade ice cream in Jo’s house. It has been over 70 years, but I remember that event very clearly.
The one thing that makes Jo stand out in my memory as “special” is the fact that Jo was my first Sunday School teacher that I can remember ever having. Jo was only a few years older than I. The last time I talked to her was about a week before her death, and I asked her about it. She remembered and said, “I always had my lesson, and they just let me teach.” Jo had been baptized at a very young age and decided later in life that she was too young to understand what she was doing. I had the great privilege of baptizing her into Christ. Jo wanted to be sure of her obedience to her Lord.
Every time I called, and every time Shirley and I visited Jo and Bob in their home, it was always a pleasant experience. Jo was in failing health and faced a great many health issues in her final years, but she was always in a good mood and it was always a pleasure to talk to her. Sometimes we would talk about the past at Algood church of Christ, or those days in school at Algood High. But her main interest was in getting better and being able to come back to worship. In that last conversation she expressed the hope that her doctor would call her that afternoon and tell her it was okay for her to do that. She said that he had told her it was dangerous for her to be in crowds due to her breathing issues. Jo was such an encourager to me. She always had good things to say about both David and me and the preaching of the Gospel.
When you think of Jo you want to say “Bob and Jo.” They were married for over 60 years, thus setting a wonderful example for our young people today. In that last conversation with Jo, she expressed how much Bob had done in taking care of her. Her concern was for him, and his concern was for her; and that is exactly the way it should be. When King David was having problems with Saul, he was absent from the meetings of Saul’s men. It was expressed by saying, “you will be missed, because your seat will be empty” (I Sam. 20:18). Jo will be missed by all at Northeast; her seat stands empty today.
To Bob and Terry and all the family, we extend our deepest sympathy. May God bless you through this difficult period. We believe that what Paul said of himself is true of every faithful Christian: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). We look forward to a reunion with Jo and all the redeemed when this life is over.
Paul M. Wilmoth