‘Momma Jo,’ born in Manhattan, New York, 99 Years young, of Whitesboro, Texas, peacefully passed away on a seasonably brisk Friday evening, December 8, 2023. Meador Funeral Home held a viewing for the immediate family at 10:00 AM, Monday, December 11, 2023, in Whitesboro. She will be reunited in burial with her husband of 58 years at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado on a date and time to be announced.
Momma Jo’s story is a “coat of many colors.” For our family, that coat happens to come with an ensemble that includes pressed or ironed slacks, a coordinated blouse or sweater, a casual but ‘classy’ hat, some ‘not necessarily comfortable but must be snazzy-looking’ shoes, adorned with a beautiful set of dangling earrings, a decorative necklace and scarf, a pearly-white pair of cotton gloves, and a handkerchief with her initials written in ink. Her final ‘fashion accessory’ would be a pair of large-frame prescription tinted glasses worn on her face attached to an ornate chain dangling around her neck. Her glasses became her ‘signature mark’ often displayed in portraits and drawings of her over the years.
Her story is one of depth. It encompasses faith, perseverance, intrigue, courage, love, and adventure. Within the first six years of her life, Momma Jo had to overcome the death of her father, and the loss of her mother who had to return to Ireland due to an incurable illness. Jo and her one-year younger sister Marie began a long arduous journey of separation in and out of various orphanages and foster homes. She was born partially deaf but did not discover it until her early adult life. She had no choice but to mature quickly, be resilient and self-reliant. This trait served her well when she turned eighteen years old during the height of WWII and ventured into the world to fend for herself. She initially conducted artillery inventories in support of the war effort at Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey, meeting, and eventually marrying, the love of her life. She had other employment and volunteer service opportunities, like telephone switchboard operator and Red Cross ‘Candy Striper.’ However, her most successful career accomplishment was being a wife and mother. While she went on to volunteer in various other positions and capacities, graciously serving others throughout the rest of her life, her primary love and devotion was as a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother, all servant of God.
Although she did not serve in the military on active duty herself, Momma Jo’s selfless volunteer service during WWII, coupled with providing love, support, and guidance to thirteen family members who served, or are currently serving, in the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Army, exampled the second greatest sacrifice anyone could ever make. She completed her ultimate act of service and support on Friday, December 8, 2023.
For ninety-nine years, nine months, and twenty-three days, this world was blessed with the gift of a beautiful and courageous woman who overcame adversities throughout her lifespan. She lovingly displayed selflessness, honesty, innocence, and a deep faith with humility. She did so while fiercely committing to God, her beloved husband of almost six decades, and family of four children, eleven grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.
‘Momma Jo’ is preceded by her husband Wallace, sister Marie, mother Josephine Marie, father Joseph Francis, niece Derry, son-in-law John, and son-in-law Russell. She is survived by four children, daughter Diana, son Michael and spouse Brenda, daughter Annette, son Wally and spouse Jane, niece Kathi and spouse Bud, niece Belicia, eleven grandchildren, Lahnie, Joey, Angela, Jennifer, Russell, Christie, Johnny, Shawna, Heather, Amy, and Michael, sixteen great grandchildren, Katie, Amanda, Piper, Taylor, Coty, Austin, Riley, Adam, Yasmeen, Yusef, Mason, Olivia, Haston, Carly, Wesley, and Charlotte, three great-great grandchildren, Juniper, Maple, and Keigan.
Momma Jo was the most gullible person on earth, and it was sometimes thought of as naivety. However, those who truly knew her understood she cared sincerely, always wanting to believe in the best of others. With all the challenges and adversities she had to overcome in her life, she blessed everyone she touched by her infectious laugh, giving heart, and love. She was the faith-foundation of the Stanberry family and will forever hold the endearing title of “family matriarch”.
She was caring, sensitive, loving, and loyal. She was our precious little Irish Leprechaun. She is fully healed now, free of pain, and in the arms of Jesus, together again with everyone she has missed over her lifetime, especially her husband Wallace, and God Himself. An Irish prayer says, “May you live a long life, full of gladness and health, with a pocket full of gold as the least of your wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, be those which come true, the kindness you spread keep returning to you.”
Josephine Frances Stanberry fulfilled God’s greatest commandment, to “love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). May we all endeavor to seek God with the same love and fervent, and may He bless each of you and keep you safe until we are ‘all’ reunited in His presence.