Mary Jo Harvey, age 90, of Flora, Illinois, passed away May 13, 2021.
Mary Jo Harvey was born February 17, 1931, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She was the 7th of 8 children born to Arthur D. and Minnie Agnes (McCrary) Childs. Her father died when she was very young (9), and she always contended she was his favorite of the eight children.
Mary Jo spent her childhood in Mt. Pleasant, helping her mother tend to a downtown apartment building by running the “scary” elevator and playing on old fire escapes. She graduated from high school in Mt. Pleasant in 1949, and a few years later met Mark S. Harvey after his mother told him to “come see the cute girl playing piano at church.” Their first date was July 4, 1951, and they were married in Mt. Pleasant on April 11, 1952.
Shortly thereafter, Mark was drafted into the Army and the couple moved to Fort Knox, KY, for basic training. Mark was then stationed in Germany, and Mary Jo moved back to Michigan and lived with her in-laws. While Mark was overseas, Mary Jo welcomed their first daughter, Shara Rae, in April, 1953, in Mt. Pleasant.
When Mark returned from his Army service in 1954, he began working for Halliburton and was transferred to Flora, IL. The two lived there for 30 years, and welcomed three more children: Marjorie Lee (April, 1955), Jeffery Dee (February, 1960), and Joni Louise (October, 1966). During their time in Flora, Mary Jo had several jobs, including working for Sears, ordering customer’s items from the catalogue; and also, the Ford dealership, where she helped manage the Ford Town USA event (she would tell you only two people didn’t turn their keys back in on time!). Mark and Mary Jo attended both the First Christian and First Baptist Churches in Flora. Most recently, they attended New Beginnings Church in Flora.
In 1971, after Mark retired from Halliburton, the couple bought the Ranch Motel in Flora, selling it in 1978 and purchasing the Ice Cream Round-Up in Louisville. In the mid-80s, they moved to Amarillo, TX, and managed apartment complexes, then “retired” by moving into a 5th wheel and helping manage RV parks while traveling out west. They loved the RV lifestyle, the southwest, and frequently ended up back in Texas, their favorite state. In 2000, Mark and Mary Jo “officially retired” and settled down, once again in Flora, where their roots now go back over 50 years.
Mary Jo – also called “JoJo” and “Joge” by her family - was known for many things, but especially for staying busy, keeping things tidy, and cleaning. She always had laundry going and would run the vacuum at all hours of the day. Her kids joke that she would sell anything at a garage sale for a quarter, and you could never leave anything just “laying around” – it would end up for sale, in the trash, or in the laundry. She loved to make desserts – pies, cakes, brownies – but shunned vegetables. She beautifully played piano by ear, playing for First Baptist Church throughout the years. Mary Jo loved watching sports - especially baseball and her very favorite St. Louis Cardinals (she consulted their schedule on her clipboard until she couldn’t!). She was a long-time St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital supporter, loved the color purple, and to her, there was no such thing as too much glitter and sparkle.
Most of all, Mary Jo loved her family – God, her husband, her kids, their kids, and their kids. In April, 2021, Mark and Mary Jo celebrated 69 years of marriage, an extraordinary milestone.
Mary Jo passed on at Heritage Woods in Flora after a brief battle with cancer, surrounded by those who loved her, on May 13, 2021. She was 90 years old.
Mary Jo is survived by her husband, Mark; four children, Shara (Jeff) Wilkins, Marjorie (Bob) Schroeder, Jeff (Shari) Harvey, and Joni (Terry) Orand; eight grandchildren, Amy Simpson, Shannon Hurliman, Brandi Brown, Mallory Rae, Ashley Willison, Ryan Orand, Trenton Harvey, and Ariel Orand; and 13 great-grandchildren; her brother Jerry Childs and her sister Jeannine Solum Perry; a sister-in-law E. Jane Snyder, and many nieces and nephews.
Mary Jo was preceded in death by her parents, Arthur and Minnie Childs; her in-laws, Mark G. and Eloise Harvey; 2 brothers, Mac Childs and Bill Childs; and 3 sisters, Kathleen Peters, Harriett Johnston, and Rose Yeley.
A Celebration of Life for Mark and Mary Jo Harvey will be held Saturday, May 7, at Frank & Bright Funeral Home from 1-2pm, with a service following at 2pm. All are welcome to attend and share in remembering their lives with laughter and love. Following the memorial service there will be a burial with military rights at Elmwood Cemetery.