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Obituaries » Mary Jo Carpenter

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May 15, 1938 - November 11, 2019

In accordance with her wish cremation has taken place. At Mary Jo’s request, please make donations to the charity of your choice in lieu of flowers.

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Our beautiful wife and mother passed away at 10:07 AM on Monday, November 11, 2019. Cancer took her body but not her spirit. Mary Jo was born and raised in Defiance, Ohio. She was a genuinely gifted artist and attended the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, later returning home to finish her art degree at Defiance College. She painted, drew, sculpted…all like a master. She loved opera. She was an expert seamstress. But her talents and passions weren’t limited to artistic pursuits, though – she also loved astronomy and right up through the final week of her life was learning about quantum physics. She was the first woman to solo from the Defiance airport. Mary Jo flew airplanes until her youngest was born, at which point she realized that with three young kids she should probably stay on the ground. She was wickedly funny, with a hearty laugh which is one of the things which we will miss most about her. Being from Ohio, she said “worsh” instead of “wash” and expanded our vocabulary with made-up words like “womperjawed”. And she was a raconteur without peer who never let the facts get in the way of a good tall tale. She could also be stubborn and infuriating but was always sincere and honest. Occasionally she was wrong…but looking back, not as often as we thought at the time. She was the boss. She could be as fierce as she was giving and kind, a true lioness who always defended her cubs. She loved us wholly and completely in that way that only a mother can. After the death of her first husband in 1966, she married John Carpenter in 1968, easily the single greatest thing she ever did for her kids. She was John’s best friend and they shared many adventures together. They took their family on fantastic vacations, and well into their fifties, she and John were still rock climbing and rappelling down mountainsides together. Her creativity and openness to new experiences are traits that she passed on to her children and have served them well as adults. She was highly opinionated, but open and accepting of others’ views. She was a staunch defender of underdogs. She taught her children to freely and passionately believe in God. Her acceptance of her condition these past several months was a revelation and an inspiration. And we give our deepest thanks to her nurse Anne from Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, who guided Mary Jo and her family through the final stage of her journey with honesty, humor, and extreme compassion, always respectful of Mary Jo’s dignity and wishes. Mary Jo died as she lived: a warrior and an absolute badass. She is now happily reunited in Heaven with her father, Dr. E.C. “Doc” Wurst, Her mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Wurst, her older brothers John and Jim, and her beloved Cocker Spaniel, Cricket. She is survived by her loving husband John, her daughter Kim, her sons Jon and Joe, her son-in-law Mark, and the “daughter of her heart”, Jill Musselman.