Surrounded by her loving family, Mary Jo McAnally died at home November 3, 2015, in Jackson, MS.
Mary Jo was born on July 20,1941, in Blytheville, Arkansas, to Lucille and Herman Oden. Upon graduation from high school, she chose to attend the University of Mississippi where her bigger-than-life personality soon charmed all those who knew her. At Ole Miss, Mary Jo sparkled as a feature twirler in the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band and as a member of Tau Beta Sigma. She pledged Tri Delta sorority, bringing honor to that group as she was selected Campus Cutie, Campus Favorite, runner up to Miss University, and Miss Blytheville.
After her arrival in Jackson, Mississippi, Mary Jo jumped feet first into life in the state’s capital. As an active member of the Junior League, she co-chaired the Tennis South International, the biggest fundraiser for underprivileged children. She also served willingly as the co-chair of the 1st Capital Campaign at Jackson Prep, and on the Advisory Board of St. Dominic’s Hospital. Always loyal to her sorority, Mary Jo was instrumental in establishing the Gamma Zeta chapter of Tri Delta at Millsaps College. Mary Jo was also a member of numerous clubs including La Soiree, Hodge Podge, and Golddiggers Investment Club.
Her successful real estate firm, Mary Jo Bickerstaff, Inc., served as a springboard into her involvement in even more projects. She established The Jackson Cancer League and the Jackson Women’s Council of Realtors, but her real passion lay in her work for the Fondren community. A tireless cheerleader for this revitalized area, she served faithfully for more than fifteen years as the Associate Director for Fondren Renaissance Foundation. Her leadership skills, coupled with her community contacts and focus, led to the creation of some of the area’s best-known events and projects. From Symphony at Sunset and Fondren Unwrapped to Fondren Park and the Phoenix Housing Project, her legacy will thrive in those who “live, work, and play” in Fondren. Her ultimate pride and joy was her role in saving Jackson’s oldest residence, The Cedars. Her passion for this project is unrivaled, and the current celebration of its 175th birthday plus the establishment of The Cedars Endowment Fund that bears her name, serves as one of her most treasured moments. An advocate for arts and education, Mary Jo’s longstanding contributions will be felt for many generations to come.
Preceded in death by her parents, Mary Jo leaves behind her husband, Ron; her daughter, Susan Bickerstaff Goodwin (Randy) of Warner Robins, Georgia; her son Michael of Brandon; granddaughters Mary Goodwin and Lucy Goodwin of Warner Robins, GA; and grandson Walker McAnally of Brandon. Also mourning her loss are beloved relatives Dan and Carolyn Gilchrist, Katie Gilchrist, Daniel Gilchrist (Blair),Lillian Thomas (David), Annette McAnally, Lori O’dorisio (Steve), Debbie McAnally,and Melody McAnally (John)
Visitation will take place Sunday, November 8, 2015, from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Cedars. Her memorial service will be held Monday, November 9 at 1:00 P.M. at First Presbyterian Church of Jackson. A celebration will be held at the Cedars immediately following the church service.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be made to The Livingston/McAnally Endowment Fund for the Cedars, c/o of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, 525 East Capitol Street, Suite 5B, Jackson, MS 39201.