Mary Jo Free
May 6, 2013 – December 1, 2013
Mary Jo Mowles Free, 89 of Houston Texas died December 1, 2013. Visitation will begin at 1pm with service following at 2pm on Wednesday, December 4 at the First Baptist Church, College Station, 2300 Welsh Ave, College Station 77845 with Pastor Barry Landrum officiating. Interment will follow at the College Station Cemetery, with service arrangements in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral Home.
Mary Jo was born May 5, 1924 in Texas to Joe and Sadie Mowles. The family lost their farm when the crops failed from the effects of the severe draught and dust storms that swept across the US plains during the 1930s. The family went through hard economic times as did many during the Great Depression but their hard work and strong faith got them through. Eventually, the family moved to Aledo, Oklahoma where they resumed farming. Mary Jo as the oldest of four girls was a hard worker doing farm labor but she also loved learning and valued education. Reading was one of her greatest pleasures especially reading the bible.
During World War II, Mary Jo left the farm to work in the munitions factory in Oklahoma City. She was an original Rosie the Riveter referring to the women who worked in the munitions and war supply factories filling in for the men who were overseas. Those years living as a single woman in the city were exciting and she made lifelong friendships with the other women who came from rural communities to work in the factories. After the war when the men returned to their jobs most of the women factory workers returned home to their families. Jobs were scarce for women after the war but Mary Jo was resourceful and despite several applicants to the same position she was hired as a switch board operator at the telephone company.
But Mary Jo was destined for the farm life. In August, 1947 Mary Jo married Wayne Lewis Bryan, a farmer from Spearman Texas. They raised crops and five children on the plains. Wayne died May 24, 1977.
Mary Jo moved to Bryan Texas to work again for the telephone company. She was introduced to her future husband Claude Free through her former sister in law Waneta Anglin. She and Claude were married and remained sweethearts until his death in September, 1998.
Mary Jo is survived by her sisters, Willie Mae Tusing and Rosie Pace; daughters, Kindra Blecher of Houston and Karma Cassidy of Lexington, KY; eleven grandchildren: Melissa Bryan-Mansk, Theresa Groves Stephens, Robert Henry Johnson, Jr., Lane Bryan, Richard Bryan Irwin, Stephanie Janssen, Zachary Dunn Cassidy, Darcy Colleen Cassidy, Emmelyn Blecher, Esther Blecher and Camille Blecher; three great-grandchildren Tyger Keck, Shaun Dyess and Dylan Hunt; and many loving nephews and nieces. Mary Jo joins her sons Marvin Wayne, Alvin Joseph, and Marshall Edward Bryan in eternal peace.
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