Antique Vintage 04

Jo-Hal (Wofford) Brown

October 27, 1924 ~ August 30, 2021 (age 96)

Obituary

Jo-Hal Wofford Brown (‘Jodie’) was born on October 27, 1924 in Wichita Falls, Texas and died August 30, 2021, in Fort Worth Texas, at the home of her youngest daughter, where she was living at the time of her death. Jodie’s parents Francis Victor Wofford and Mary Pauline Pritchett eloped and were married in Floydada on December 28, 1920, while Mary Pauline was on a college school break.  Mary Pauline was only 16 years old; Francis was 19.  Jodie was born 4 years later in Wichita Falls where Francis was working as a pharmacist.  Jodie’s early years were tumultuous.  Francis abandoned Jodie and Mary Pauline, when Jodie was only a year old, in 1925.  Four years later, Mary Pauline left Jodie to be raised by her maternal grandmother, Cora Evelina [Shackleford] Pritchett O’Keefe and Jodie’s step grandfather Rufus Augustus O’Keefe.  Rufus and Cora formally adopted Jodie in 1932, when Mary Pauline died.  At the time they became her parents, Cora was 50 and Rufus was 73.  The three of them: a grieving mother, a broken cowboy, and an emotionally fragile child proceeded to build a life together.  They comforted and supported each other through the challenges of their personal lives as well as the historical challenges facing the country: the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, World War II, debilitating strokes, personal grief, financial ruin, and the heartbreak of Jodie leaving home for college. In spite of loss and adversity, Jodie’s childhood provided her with loving memories that endured and sustained her through her very last days. 

Shortly after the Great Depression, Cora O’Keefe began taking in boarders and giving voice lessons in her home. Jodie spent her days peeking through the stair bannisters and listening to the music students in the parlor. She developed a beautiful singing voice and a joy for singing that would last a lifetime. In her very last days, she spent countless hours each day singing and harmonizing to music.  She was peaceful and happy while singing. 

After graduation from Plainview High, Jodie enrolled in Texas Tech in 1941.  As money was scarce, she worked many jobs while in school: a telephone switchboard operator, a file clerk, and a dime store attendant where she sold stockings. One of her greatest pleasures during that time and throughout her life, was dancing.  She often said “I would rather dance than eat!” Reese Air Force Base was in full swing preparing Air Cadets for WWII.  To boost morale, they sponsored dances and invited the girls from Texas Tech. Every Friday night, a dance was held to send off the graduating cadets who were shipped off the following morning. Every Saturday night, a dance was held to welcome the new recruits. Jodie used to laugh and tell everyone that “she had danced a million miles” as her contribution to the war effort.

In 1945, Jodie graduated from Texas Tech and moved to Floydada to take a teaching position where her first assignment was as an English teacher to an intimidating eighth grade class of 4 girls and 38 boys.  True to her nature, she rose to the challenge and had a great first year as a teacher.  She immersed herself in the community and was cast in a local play. Also cast was a handsome local man who had just returned from war service on the European front, William Edward Brown, Jr. Everyone called him Billy. He offered her a ride home after rehearsal and the rest is history. They were wed on August 2, 1948 in the Methodist Church in Plainview Texas. Billy and Jodie enjoyed 72 years as a couple, until Billy died on September 30, 2019, at the age of 97.  Early in her marriage, Jodie fulfilled her dream of a large family by having 6 children, all of whom survive her:  Rande Lu (B: 1950), Jo-Christy (B: 1952), William Edward Brown III “WEB” (B: 1954), Cary O’Keefe (B: 1956), and her twin boys Thiess Martin and Tracy Wolf (B: 1959). 

Jodie proceeded through life with her six children following along behind her like a mother duck with ducklings. She took her brood along wherever she went and we enjoyed life at her side. We had picnics at the Country Club. We rode the log ride at Six Flags. We snorkeled in Florida. We walked through the jungles of Mexico in search of Paracutin. We dodged jelly fish in Mazatlan. We built sand castles in Acapulco. We went on thrilling van rides across the Sierra Madres Mountain range. Life with Jodie was full of adventure.

On a professional level, Jodie had a long career with the Floydada School District. Following her stint as a classroom teacher, she earned her Master’s Degree and gained certification as a Speech Pathologist and Diagnostician and worked in that capacity for many years.  As is often the case in rural schools, she performed many duties not listed in her job description.  She was a compassionate and fierce advocate for marginalized families.  She bathed children to rid them of lice. She often took clothing and food from her own home to clothe and feed the families she encountered that were in need. She helped her clients in any way she could to get them the specialized services they desperately needed. Though she was often recognized professionally by her superiors, her true service was to a community that had no voice.

Jodie was also artistically creative. After her children were grown, she began making and selling jewelry. She and Billy enjoyed many years traveling the country, attending art shows and fairs. Jodie’s work was accepted into many of the best Art Shows in the United States. Women lined up outside her booth, each year, to be the first to buy her creations. Her work was original, beautiful, and well received. 

In later years, Jodie and Billy loved to travel. They took many trips independently and also enjoyed traveling with their children.  They sipped coffee in Australia, toured Cathedrals in Spain, searched for pearls in Hong Kong, walked the beaches in Costa Rica, drank wine in Italy, ate Sacher Torte in Austria, watched the volcano in Guatemala, explored castles in Germany. They were hosted in Thailand by their beloved foster children Lynn and Andrew Yau. Perhaps their favorite spot was Kauai. In Kauai, they stayed at a little hotel, out on a point, where they fell asleep each night listening to the pounding of the surf.  

In late 1955, Jodie reunited briefly with her birth father, Francis Victor, prior to his death in 1956.  Additionally, in the fall of 2000, Jodie was able to meet and get to know her half-brother, Charles Francis Wofford, of San Francisco. Though Jodie was anxious about meeting her half brother, Charles charmed her and won her over within 15 minutes. They spent a wonderful afternoon sharing stories and memories that were theirs, and theirs alone. 

In her late 80’s, Jodie suffered a stroke that robbed her of the ability to recall many of her memories.  It did not, however, take away her quick wit and sense of humor.  In her last days she remained charming, witty, and engaging. Jodie lived life to the fullest for 97 years and she brought interest, excitement, and joy to so many who knew her and shared her life. She will be greatly missed and her memory will be held dear by her loved ones and friends who remain.

Jo-Hal Wofford Brown is preceded in death by her husband William Edward Brown, Jr.  Surviving are her six children and their spouses: Rande Lu Brown (Polvadera, New Mexico), Jo- Christy Brown (and Clay Smith, Austin, Texas), William Edward Brown III (Edmond, Oklahoma), Cary O’Keefe Brown Meiners (and Roger Meiners, Fort Worth, Texas), Thiess Martin Brown (and Gina Brown, Weatherford, Texas), and Tracy Wolf Brown (Weatherford, Texas).  Jo-Hal also leaves 16 grandchildren to mourn her (Nikki-Em, Rocky, Katy, Amy, Callie, Billy, Joe, Molly, Leah, Thiess, Rebekah, Jennifer, Jessica, William, Julianna, and Jadyn). Also, at the time of her death, Jo-Hal had 10 great grandchildren. She will be laid to rest at the Floydada Cemetery beside the single, great, and enduring love of her life, “Billy Boy”. Billy and Jodie will, again, be together. 

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