This week’s column is dedicated to my mother, who passed away on February 5 and whose obituary appears on page five of this week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times. The photo on the left shows Mary Jo Pierson at age two with her parents at the Odd Fellows Home in Elkins where they worked. The portrait on the right was taken in 1946 on the occasion of her graduation from Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston.
Many times I would call my mother to ask about a person in a photograph before putting it in this newspaper. She was a walking history book! She’d say, “Boy, there’s a lotta history there!”
She could tell you everything you wanted to know about almost anybody in Pocahontas County. I’ve wondered how she could remember so many details! I hope that I can remember half of what she passed on. I wish that I had recorded it all.
Mary Jo was born in 1928, at the time when banks were collapsing and the country was plunging into a deep Depression. We often talked of this and surmised that she landed at the Odd Fellows Home simply because her father needed a job. He had served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, was a Mason and no doubt had great ability and many connections. Her mother had been a teacher at Durbin Grade School and fit right in as Matron to 125 children whose parents could no longer care for them.
In 1933 the family moved to her mother’s birthplace of Huntersville as it was time for Mary Jo to go to school. Her years at Huntersville School and on to Marlinton High School were filled with fond memories of treasured friends with whom she planned to graduate. But that was not to be and she spent her Senior Year in Charleston.
Throughout her life she remembered those friends from Marlinton High and they always considered her to be one of their fellow graduates. She attended their Class Reunion every year and though their numbers have declined, their connection is as strong as ever.
They have shared beautiful words with me over the past week. They have written about her mature countenance, her beautiful blue eyes. They speak of cherished friend, happy times and good memories. A special friend wrote that she had made this world a better place.
Her family is grateful to all of you.
Mary Jo would be glad to know that she touched so many lives. If the Marlinton High School Class of 1946 has a reunion next year – I will be there!
Access the “Preserving Pocahontas” Digital Library at www.pocahontaspreservation.org or www.preserving pocahontas.org
If you have historical records or photographs to be scanned for the county Historical Archive contact Preservation Officer B. J. Gudmundsson at 304-799-3989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Prints of photographs are available.