Mother, Wife, Sister, Business Manager
and Community Volunteer is missed.
Mary Jo passed away suddenly and peacefully in Ashland on Saturday, January 11, 2014 among friends and family. She was born in Boise, Idaho on October 26, 1935 to Winston and Helen Roberts. She grew up on her father's gladiolus farm with three younger brothers. Mary Jo was always riding her bicycle, climbing the apple tree, swinging on the rope swing or playing softball, volleyball, and basketball on local teams.
At Boise High School she was very involved in activities. She was Student Body Secretary her senior year. Academically, she was sixth in her senior class of 500 students. She enjoyed music and playing the piano. She was active in the Girls' Athletic Association, a member of Job's Daughters, and the Methodist Youth Group where her future husband also participated.
Mary Jo graduated from Boise High School and a year later, in 1953, married Leroy Dee Owens. They moved to Moscow, Idaho where they started a family and LeRoy attended the University of Idaho. Returning to Boise, Mary Jo had three more children and LeRoy was vice-principal at South Junior High.
In 1963 Mary Jo, LeRoy, and their four children, David, Diane, Douglas, and Daniel, moved to Eugene, Ore. where LeRoy was vice-principal at Wilson Junior High. In 1970 Mary Jo worked as an administrative assistant at the capital in Salem, Ore. when LeRoy was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. Returning to Eugene, Mary Jo worked in several business offices while attending classes at the University of Oregon and raising the family and LeRoy returned to graduate school.
The family moved to American Samoa in 1975 where LeRoy was a technical adviser to the Community College of Am. Samoa and the Department of Education. Mary Jo worked in the education office which she enjoyed.
They moved from the South Pacific to the Arctic in 1976 when the family moved to Alaska where Mary Jo finished her Business Administration degree at the University of Alaska Anchorage with a major in accounting. Her work experience included Controller of an office machine sales and service company, Business Manager of a rural Alaska School District, plus various bookkeeping, office manager and accounting positions over the years. When she turned fifty she ran a half-marathon and continued jogging and cross country skiing.
In 1992 Mary Jo and LeRoy moved to Ashland, Ore. where Mary Jo worked for an insurance office and an active volunteer in the community. An avid reader, Mary Jo was a member of several book groups and took many enrichment classes. As a volunteer for 20 years with Oregon Shakespeare Festival she saw most of the plays performed in the Rogue Valley through the years. She even had a role in one. She took long walks almost daily and attended her YMCA aerobics classes to the end.
She was active in the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship serving as treasurer and on various committees, American Association University Women, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, YMCA, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the League of Women Voters among many others.
She will be greatly missed by family, friends, and community for her generosity and helpful kindness for all.
Mary Jo is survived by children, David, Diane, Douglas, and Daniel Owens; brothers, Tom and John Roberts; and grand-daughters, Alyssa and Lauren. She was preceded in death by her husband, LeRoy Owens; her parents, Winston and Helen Roberts; step-mother, Marie Roberts; brother, Jim Roberts; and grand-daughter, Jessica Owens.
A celebration of her life will be held at the Unitarian Center at 4th and C streets in Ashland at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, January 25, 2014. Memorial contributions may be made to the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St, Ashland, OR 97520 or to NAMI of Southern Oregon, P.O. Box 8018, Medford, OR 97501. Tribute site for pictures and remembrances: