Cover photo for Mary Jean Watts Jowett's Obituary
Mary Jean Watts Jowett Profile Photo
1928 Mary 2024

Mary Jean Watts Jowett

November 4, 1928 — January 17, 2024

Independence

Mary Jean Watts Jowett

November 4, 1928 – January 17, 2024

 

Supported by loving friends and family, Mary Jean Watts Jowett left her physical body on January 17, 2024, at the age of 95 in her home. 

 

Mary was born on November 4, 1928, on a cold snowy day in Mapleton, Iowa to Oscar and Cleora Watts. She and her twin brother Jack weighed less than two pounds each at birth and were kept alive swaddled in cotton and placed in shoeboxes on the oven door of the family’s wood burning cook stove. The twins were the pride and joy of Oscar and Cleora. They won healthiest babies at the Iowa State Fair wearing matching smocked sailor suits that were carefully hand-stitched by their mother. They spent much of their childhood in Pisgah, Iowa, living through the hard economic downturn of the Great Depression. Seven years after the twins' birth, the family welcomed Robert (Bob) Watts. Mary adored Bob and spent much of her day playing with him and helping with his care.

 

The family eventually moved to Lamoni, Iowa for Cleora to care for her aging parents. Mary attended Lamoni High School, played trombone in the high school band, and began working for her uncle at Wall Drug, where she was a soda jerk and responsible for coffee. She swore she would never drink a drop of coffee after she left home – she "had seen enough of it." After receiving a two-year degree in Music from Graceland College, Mary ventured west to work at Yellowstone National Park in the park gift shop. She spent a very long, hot summer there before traveling to Washington, DC to become a secretary to Senator Milton Ruben Young of North Dakota. Mary learned many life lessons while working on “The Hill”. She sought solace from the big city at the local RLDS church, where she met George Frederick Jowett, the handsome sailor from Milan, Michigan who swept her off her feet. After a brief engagement and several mix-ups with their marriage license–a story that made the front page of the Washington Post, George and Mary were married on July 22, 1950. The young Navy sailor and his new bride moved to Independence, Missouri to raise a family.

 

Thomas (Tom) Warren was the first born. Shortly after Ted Arthur arrived followed by Margaret (Pegi) Ruth. Family was Mary’s delight. As a stay-home mother, she taught her children to love God, love one another, and love the wonders of life. The family enjoyed participating in church events as well as sharing time with neighbors in their home of 70 years that George built on Queen Ridge Drive. Travel became a family favorite. Together they explored the US, Mexico, Canada, and Grand Cayman. Later in life, George and Mary traveled the globe together. Mary often said she was committed to ensuring her children would find joy in their lives and not the struggles she had endured in her childhood.

 

Mary’s life was defined by her unwavering faith. She and her family were active members of the Community of Christ Church (RLDS). She sang in the Independence Messiah Choir and served as the church Children's Choir Director, Adult Choir Director, and State/Regional Choir Director. Mary loved the arts, especially music and musical expression. She would practice for hours and ensure all participating in the ministry of music were as well prepared. Mary was gifted with the ability to select sacred music and plan worships that offered ministry to all who attended the many local, national, and international services and retreats that she provided for the church.

 

As her three children matured, Mary returned to school and earned her BA in Liturgical Studies and a Master of Theology from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Mary was an advocate for women's rights and was one of the first group of women to serve on the World Church Women’s Commission. She was also one of the first women of the church to be ordained to the priesthood office of Elder. Mary was on the church Worship Commission for the Walnut Gardens Congregation and for the Stone Church Congregation. This was followed by an active role with the first formed World Church Worship Commission. There she helped with the planning of worship services for the entire World Church organization. It was at this time that she published two books, A Guide to Planning Weddings and A Guide to Funeral Planning, which have been used extensively as worship planning guides. Mary resounded her life beliefs and was published in Newsweek magazine for her views on social policies.

 

Mary valued education and felt it was a key to finding success in life. She was employed by the Independence School District as one of the first Parent Educators for the district’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program. This gave Mary the opportunity to visit families in their homes and support children as they developed early foundational life skills. Seeing the need for children to have quality books and early literacy experiences, Mary joined PAT colleagues in creating The Children’s Bookshelf.

 

Following George’s desire to co-own Sibley Orchards with brother-in-law Bill and wife Barbara, Mary took liberties and appointed herself president of the company. The orchard became a literal labor of love, where Mary demonstrated her unselfish commitment to family.

 

Above all, Mary was a loving mother and wife to her three children and her husband. Mary found great happiness in sharing time, poetry, music, and love with her six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. There was nothing she would not do for her family and was the loving voice and strong spirit to their forward paths. 

 

Both Mary and George will be missed by all because of what they so generously gave to so many and for the gracious Spirit that they always carried with them. Their memories will live within us forever. Their voice will move us forward with the desire to always be the best and to serve with humbleness and strength. Mary, we will deeply miss your strong will and physical presence. May your life eternal be celebrated knowing that you have responded to life’s call by jubilantly singing the anthem, “O use me, Lord, use even me, just as you will and when and where, until your blessed face I see, your rest, your joy, your glory share.”

 

Mary is preceded in death by her parents Oscar Columbus and Cleora Lucille Pitkin Watts, sister Elizabeth Ann Watts, brother John (Jack) Pitkin Watts, brother Robert (Bob) Loren Watts and loving husband of 57 years, George Frederick Jowett. She is survived by her son Tom and wife Judy, son Ted and wife Terri, daughter Pegi and husband Danny, grandchildren Brian (Carissa) Jowett, Erin (Brent) Newcomb, Shannon (Tom) Jowett, Travis Jowett, Chad (Chloe) Jowett, Nathan (Mandi) Stamps, great grandchildren Decker, Avalon, Beckman, Bowen, and Asher, and many extended family and friends.

 

The family gives special thanks and gratitude for the gentle, patient, and loving women–Norma, Angela, Karen, Angie, and Eva–who so kindly cared and comforted Mary in her later years.

 

Family will greet friends on Saturday, February 10, 1:00 PM, followed by a Service of Celebration beginning at 2:00 PM, at the Walnut Gardens Community of Christ Church, 19201 East R D Mize Road, Independence, MO 64057. 

 

Donations can be made in memory of Mary Jowett to the Kansas University Medical Center Project Eagle Early Head Start Program at https://www.kumc.edu/project-eagle/ways-to-help/make-a-gift.html.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Jean Watts Jowett, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, February 10, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Walnut Gardens Congregation Community of Christ Church

19201 E R D Mize Rd, Independence, MO 64057

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Service of Celebration

Saturday, February 10, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Walnut Gardens Congregation Community of Christ Church

19201 E R D Mize Rd, Independence, MO 64057

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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