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Obituaries » Jo Carol DeShon Hartnett

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June 5, 1937 - January 26, 2019

There is to be a Celebration of Jo’s Life, 1:30-5:00 PM on March 16, 2019 at the Kalamazoo Country Club, 1609 Whites Rd. Kalamazoo, MI.  49008. Please RSVP to Amy Robertson 269-491-4444 by 3/6/19.  Friends and family are encouraged to leave a condolence message.

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Jo Carol Hartnett DeShon was born June 5, 1937 in Independence, MO. She died on January 26, 2019 surrounded by her loving family in Kalamazoo, MI. Jo was predeceased in death by her parents, Joseph William Hartnett and Helen Mae O’Dell Hartnett, along with many loving grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Jo is survived by her husband of 61 years, David DeShon, her daughters Leslie (James Knapp) of Nashville, TN and Amy (Greg Robertson) of Marshall, MI, and four step-grandchildren Charlotte Wilson and Jacob, Kaylee, and Kevin Robertson.

Jo’s childhood was economically modest yet caring and socially robust. Jo’s cousin Bob lived next door. She and Bob often played Tarzan, swinging through the trees and challenging each other to do more, faster. A deep scar on her leg calf is evidence of a fateful encounter with a barbed wire fence during one such challenge. Jo dreamed that someday she might see Chicago.

Jo learned early about paradoxes and social double-binds when a grade-school teacher smacked her on the back of the hand with a ruler as punishment for helping another student.  Her mother and grandmother, Mable, informed her that the social order requires both the creation and sacrifice of people like us.

In 1954, she was President of the Bristol Teen-Town Dancing Club, Teen Style Consultant for Woolf Brothers Department Store, Editor of her high-school yearbook, admitted to her high school honor society (Northeast), Campaign Manager for the person who became student-mayor of Kansas City (David Sano), and was selected as one of the most promising 100 young women of Kansas City.

In college, she was English tutor to the William Jewell football team, President of her pledge class of Alpha Delta Pi, and admitted into the University of Missouri at Kansas City’s honor society. In 1957, she married David DeShon not knowing how to boil water. Through the years, Jo became a superb cook and hostess, with Rinderrouladen and Flan being family classics.

Upon moving to Kalamazoo in 1964, Jo served as President of the Newcomers of WMU’s Faculty Dames while raising her daughters and pursuing her passion–elementary education. In 1975, Jo became a full-time third grade teacher at Milwood Elementary School. She retired after 22 years.

Since retiring, Jo served as President of PEO, Chapter Q. She was also a delegate to the PEO International Convention. Jo was Treasurer of Parkwyn Village homes association for six years. And, she edited a book on assisted suicide that was caught up in the political turmoil of the times and never published. Until her death, Jo continued imparting to her friends and associates the importance of caring and listening. Jo was an equal opportunity friend: all were welcome, all were equal.

Jo loved her family and friends as they loved her; she loved giving dinner parties, loved fast and classic cars, the theater, and traveling around one quarter of this planet. Jo lived, she learned, she loved, she left.  She did get to Chicago.

Jo was a supporter of Loaves and Fishes, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Anyone who cares to do so may contribute to the social support service of their choice. Jo’s ashes are to be interred near her parent’s graves in Independence, Missouri. At Jo’s request there will be no funeral or memorial service.