Jo Ann Cole Word, 79, of Meridian passed away Friday evening, July 5, 2013, at her residence. Funeral: 2 p.m. Monday in the Meridian First United Methodist Church with the pastor, Rev. Kevin Wilson, officiating. Burial will be in Meridian Cemetery. Visitation: 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the Lawson Funeral Home in Meridian. A native of Kopperl in Bosque County, she was born Oct. 30, 1933. Jo Ann was a daughter of Lois and Clara Bolin Cole and a sister to Joy Schmidt and Janet Carter, who all predeceased her. Jo Ann married Charles K. "Chock" Word Jr. in Lovington, N.M., on March 17, 1956, and they had two children, Cole and Terri. Their earthly partnership ended when Chock passed away on May 14, 2011, at their home in Meridian. The five years prior to Chock's death, both he and Jo Ann suffered major health setbacks and their friends and family watched in amazement as they continued to conduct their lives with wisdom, forethought, and boundless good humor. Their home, all the years of their marriage, had an "open door" policy and was filled with love, laughter, and seemed to always have room for one more. A teacher
by profession, Jo Ann graduated from Kopperl High School in 1951. She played basketball at Wayland Baptist College and later went to North Texas State in Denton, where she graduated in 1954. She taught in the Kopperl school system after her graduation from college and in 1955 went to Midland where she worked for Shell Oil Company. After her marriage to Chock in 1956, their son, Cole, was born March 16, 1958, and shortly thereafter, the young family moved to Graham where Jo Ann taught school for two years. In 1963, Jo Ann and Chock came home to Bosque County and settled in Meridian where she and her sister, Joy, opened a little store they called "The J & J." Daughter Terri Ann was born Dec. 7, 1967. Jo Ann officially retired from teaching in 1995 after her career had taken her to teaching positions not only in Kopperl and Graham, but also in Walnut Springs and Meridian. After teaching, she embarked on a new career with Meridian Abstract Company where she worked until 1997 The couple bought property in Ruidoso, N.M., and spend part of every year there enjoying the scenery, social life, and cool weather. An excellent pianist from an early age, the Baptist Church in Kopperl claimed Jo Ann's talents and she was always available for various community and civic affairs. She taught a children's class in the Methodist Church in Meridian where she and her family were members, and sang in the Good News Singers Choir, a choir associated with the church. She served on the Meridian Hospital Board and was a member of the Clifton Historical Group. If there were charities or civic groups that needed assistance of either Chock or Jo Ann, they were always willing and faithfully served Bosque County, its communities, and citizens. Always a larger than life presence in Bosque County, whether raising funds for a charity or taking a part in county elections, Jo Ann was the "go to" person who either knew the answer or would find it out for you. She knew who she was and was unequivocally either "for it" or "agin it!" She lived her life with the attitude "there's nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow strip and dead armadillos" as did another famous Texas named Jim Hightower, from whom that statement emanated. Texas is famous for its beautiful women, not necessarily that they're physically more beautiful than other women, but that they have an inner presence that translates to the way they live, how they treat people, their loyalties and devotion to country, state, county, church, family and friends. Kay Bailey Hutchison aptly described Texas women thusly: "I wouldn't say that Texas women are different from all other women, but I would say that there is a Texas trait of spirit, grit, determination and can-do attitude." If Kay had added "an ongoing and delightful sense of humor" she'd have been describing Jo Ann Cole Word, a Texas treasure, dear friend and role model to many. Jo Ann will be missed, her memory, however, will forever be etched in the hearts of many lives, both children and adults she touched, made happier and forever enriched. Survivors: Jo Ann is survived by her children, Bosque County Judge, Charles Cole Word, and his wife, Sonja, of Meridian, and daughter, Terri Ann Dabbs and her husband, Stuart, of Rowlett; grandchildren, Kiley, Justin, Wade and Amanda; great-grandchildren, Ellie and Bowen; a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives; and many dear friends.