Beloved and iconic grandmother, mother, cousin and dear friend, Jo Ann Jones Thomas, age 87, of Monett, peacefully returned to Heaven in the early hours of Christmas Eve morning, December 24, 2021, at Oak Pointe Assisted Care in Monett, Missouri.
Jo Ann arrived into the world on May 28, in Monett, Missouri to a promising businessman, the late Jerry Edward Jones, and his young wife, the late Flossie May (Pruitt) Jones at the beginning of The Depression. They had already suffered losing a toddler named Laura Jane, and were overjoyed to receive Jo Ann in their life. Jo was truly the apple of her father’s eye and accompanied him everywhere. With an ever present book tucked under her arm, she accompanied her father to work, to church and on their fishing trips. When Eddie discovered his only child’s love of music, he purchased an upright piano and arranged for lessons. Little Miss Jo Ann developed a precocious talent and began playing for both weddings and funerals at the tender age of six. Jo Ann then began a life-long devotion to music, and in particular, to serving as the church pianist and organist at both The First Free Will Baptist Church of Monett and Macedonia and performing at countless wedding and funerals, religious events and school functions around the four-state area.
Although scarcely 15, Jo Ann fell in love at first sight with the energetic and lanky new employee at her father’s iron and metal company, Burl Dean Thomas Junior, known as “Punk”, and one hot summer day, June 25th, 1950, they married. They were so young and silly, that their friends, including Dean Powell, “chivareed” them with pranks that involved Burl pushing Jo Ann down Broadway in a wheelbarrow. It was, in fact, the same day that the Korean War was declared and a few months later, Burl was drafted into the United States Army, and Jo Ann completed her high school days as a married woman. They were kept apart by war for nearly two years.
It was a happy reunion though when Burl returned home with honors, and nine months later, their son Jerry Gale was born! Jo Ann and Jerry were now the inseparable duo–Jo Ann was thrilled to have a constant companion while Burl worked, and everyone doted on the young son. More than nine years passed before another child was born, Melisa Lynn, and then two years later, Stephen Edward was born and completed the family. Many times, Jo Ann, like every mother, has said, her life was her children. She treated each child as the individual they were, with unique talents and personalities to cultivate.
Throughout the busy years of raising children, Jo Ann was The Boss of Ed Jones Garage and Wrecker Service, “manning” the phones, sending out the statements, sending Burl out in blizzards in the middle of night to rescue motorists, balancing the books and keeping the employees in line.
Throughout the busy years of wrecker service, Jo Ann was at The Center of the First Free Will Baptist Church activities – playing the piano and organ. She was the treasurer. She led the Women’s Auxiliary and hosted the visiting missionaries. She led the Youth Groups and baked the cakes and sent the meals and visited the sick and wept with those who lost their loved ones.
And through these busy years of church service, she also cooked. She was a wizard. She seemed to effortlessly produce magical meals with great joy. Fried chicken. Prime rib with popovers and twice-baked potatoes. Gooseberry cobblers. Homemade ice cream. You haven’t truly lived, if you didn’t get the chance to dine at her table.
And through the busy years of cooking, she never forgot her dear friends. She was a devoted daughter who always let her Mom ride shotgun on her travels across the U.S. and when they went “antiquing” with Wilma and Luther Pogue. Jo Ann was always up for an adventure with her much loved daughter-in-law Rebecca. She traveled to see Stephen and Melisa and she doted upon grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.
And can you imagine, she still found time to shop.
During the last few years, after Burl, her lifelong companion passed on, Jo Ann’s memory faltered and she – and her beautiful baby grand piano – moved to Oak Pointe Assisted Care in Monett and we came to love our Jo Ann as she was then – living in the moment, still very feisty, still lovable. Still singing until her very last day on Earth – Christmas Eve.
Dearest Jo Ann and Burl shared 63 years together. He preceded her in death February 7, 2014. She is survived by their three children: two sons, Jerry Thomas, and wife Rebecca, of Monett, MO and Stephen Thomas, and wife Lana, of Manassas, VA; one daughter, Melisa Bush, and husband Bill, of Joseph, OR; one sister-in-law, Betty Shirkey, of Nixa, MO; five grandchildren, Matthew Thomas, and wife Amanda, of Parkville, MO, Jeffrey Thomas and partner Leigh, of Neosho, MO, Joseph Thomas, and partner Agnes, of Monett, MO, Gabriel Bush, of Joseph, OR and Stephanie Thomas, of Manassas, VA; nine great-grandchildren, Aidan, Max, Charlotte, Willow, Asher, Dayton, Addie, Peyton and Olive; and her special cousin, Nancy Parson, and husband Marvin, of Ozark, MO, and her special cousin Dick Pogue, wife Margie and family of Springfield, MO, and her oldest friend, Dean Powell of Pittsburg, KS and many dear friends in Christ.
Funeral services for Mrs. Thomas will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, at the Buchanan Funeral Home Chapel with Reverend Lee Neill officiating. Burial will be at the Oakdale Cemetery in Monett. The family will receive friends from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 27, at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Haven of the Ozarks in care of the funeral home. Arrangements have been entrusted to Buchanan Funeral Home, Monett, MO.