Mary Jo Thompson passed away on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at the Niobrara Nursing Home.
Mary Josephine Norman Thompson, Mary Jo, was born May 28, 1921, at Hot Springs, South Dakota to Harry and LaRue (Thomas) Norman. She was the eldest of seven children. She was raised in a log house. The house burned down when she was a young child. The family lived in a grainery while their new house was being built. She walked to and from the Windy Hill School for her first through eighth grades. She first attended Crawford High School, later graduating as the valedictorian from the Whitney High School.
She attended Chadron Normal School for one year, obtaining her teaching certificate. She was in the first aviation class offered by the school.
She married J. Russsell Thompson July 30, 1941, at the home of her parents in Whitney, Nebraska. To this union were born John Cody Thompson (Cheri), Leif Harry Thompson (Brenda), Thomas Joe Thompson (Dixie), Roxanne Thompson Sharp (Roy), and Frank Link Thompson (Deb).
During the early years of their marriage, they resided in Whitney, Nebraska. In 1943, they moved to Keeline, Wyoming. On October 8, 1944, they purchased the Len Christian ranch.They added to their holdings by purchasing the old Jim Christian place in 1964. They raised top quality cattle and made many improvements to their ranch during their ownership. They installed one of the first livestock pipelines in the state and were awarded the Conservationist of the Year by the Wyoming Soil Conservation Service in 1973. In 2000, they moved to Scottsbluff, Nebraska due to ill health. Russ passed away in February 2001, at which time she returned to her home in Lusk.
Mary Jo enjoyed entertaining, always ready for another tea party. She belonged to several organizations. She started the Indian Creek Bridge Club and was a charter member of Niobrara County Cowbelles and held offices many times. She was a member of the Congregational Church and Congregational Church Circle, Lusk Womens Club, PEO, and DAR. She was a delegate to the United Church of Christ Rocky Mountain Conference and also a state delegate to the National Republican Convention.
One of her most enjoyable times was while Russ was in legislature and she wrote weekly columns for the Lusk Herald about their life in Cheyenne.
She loved her hunting business and kept detailed records of the many hunters who stayed and hunted at the ranch.
She also entered the Cowbelle Beef Cook-off and took first place with her recipe for Ulcer Gulch Sandwiches.
She taught Sunday School for many years and thoroughly enjoyed helping to organized the Christmas program. She also helped with 4-H projects.
Mary Jo is survived by sons Cody Thompson, Lusk, Tom Thompson of Whitney, NE, and Link Thompson of Gordon, NE, daughter Roxanne Sharp of Lusk, and sister Gloria Lopes of Junction City, Oregon, 11 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Russ Thompson, son Leif Thompson, and granddaughter Sasha Blackford, her parents, brothers Jacque Norman, Thomas Norman, and Conway Norman, sisters Margaret Moss and Joy Isham.
Funeral services will be Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 2 p.m. at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds Auditorium, officiated by Rev. Mark Lohr. Pier Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lusk Congregational Church, the Warring Memorial Methodist Church in Whitney, Nebraska, or to the charity of their choice.