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Mary Jo Wilson was born to Stanley and Margaret Wilson on May 25, 1936.
She was preceded in birth by brother Daniel Wilson, who would become an accomplished scientist in the field of atomic energy. Mary Jo majored in Biblical studies and Spanish at Houghton College in New York, where she met and married Phil Janowsky, who was preparing to enter pastoral ministry. They were married in 1956 and began a lifetime of Christian service together while raising four children: Peggy, Dan, Andy and Mark. Mary Jo’s gifts complimented Phil’s ministry well: she was an exceptional pianist and played the organ and pipe organ as well. She loved teaching Bible studies and Sunday school as well as directing choirs, especially during Christmas and Easter.
Mary Jo earned bachelors and master of arts degrees in education from Adams State College in Alamosa during the years Phil pastored the Sargent Community Church in the San Luis Valley. She taught kindergarten at Haskin Elementary in Center for many years and finished her career in the public schools at Pagosa Springs Elementary School when Phil became the pastor of the Pagosa Springs United Methodist Church.
After 41 years of pastoral service, Phil retired from active ministry in 1999. Mary Jo continued to teach in private early education programs after her retirement from the public schools.
Mary Jo was not raised in a church-going family and was forever grateful for a neighborhood Child Evangelism program where she learned about Jesus Christ and dedicated her life and abilities to him. She longed for an opportunity to combine her love of early childhood literacy education with the freedom to instruct children in the Christian faith which had given her own life its passion and meaning. Our Savior Lutheran School in Pagosa Springs gave her that chance and she taught there until her death at age 77.
Mary Jo and Phil celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary Oct. 16, 2013.
The distinguishing characteristic of Mary Jo’s life was a joy that shone in her eyes, sparkled in her smile and resounded in her laugh. Her many hobbies included classical music, camping, birdwatching, and anything her grandchildren were interested in.
She is survived by husband Phil and four children and their families: daughter Peggy Haslar, her husband Rick and sons Ben and Matthew; son Dan Janowsky, his wife Nyana and their sons Ronnie and Caleb; son Andy Janowsky and his wife Linda; and son Mark Janowsky. Mary Jo was the great-grandmother of Philip Haslar, son of Matthew and Kate Haslar.
A memorial service in Mary Jo’s honor will be held at Centerpoint Baptist Church in Pagosa Springs at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. Following the ceremony, a reception will be held at the Parish Hall on Lewis Street in Pagosa Springs. All are welcome to come and share fellowship and memories of her.
In lieu of flowers, a donation account in Mary Jo’s name has been established at Wells Fargo Bank in Pagosa Springs to aid the family with expenses.
The words of her favorite hymn speak now the feelings of her family and all who loved her: “Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”