Obituary for Mandajo “Jo” Wilson

Ponca City Now - October 29, 2021 3:52 pm

Mandajo E. Willson

January 28, 1925 – October 9, 2021

On Saturday, October 9th, 2021, Jo Willson, beloved mother, grandmother and avid baseball fan, peacefully passed away at the age of 96. Mandajo Estelle Downing was born on January 28th,1925, in Navina, Oklahoma. Jo, as she was known by family and friends, was a real-life Rosie the Riveter although she would argue that she wasn’t because she didn’t put in any rivets, but she did do whatever else they needed her to do. Her older brother was in the Army serving overseas in WWII and she felt compelled to support him and contribute in some way. So, during her senior year at Guthrie High School, she made the one-hour train ride to Oklahoma City and worked the graveyard shift at Douglas, present day Tinker Air Force Base, clocked out at 7 a.m., rode the train home and made it to her morning classes at Guthrie High. She graduated in 1944 and continued to work at Douglas until it closed in 1945. She attended Central State College for two years and received a teaching certificate. She taught elementary for several years in Kansas before moving back to Oklahoma. She married Harry Willson Jr. on June 6,1954 and began her life as a farmer’s wife in Crescent, Oklahoma. She loved sports, in particular baseball, and could be found listening to or watching most Cardinal Baseball games with her own scorebook in hand. She was a very selfless person who volunteered many hours for the Frontier Museum and the Oklahoma Sports Museum in Guthrie after retiring.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Sadie Ellen and Orville Grant Downing of Guthrie, Oklahoma, her husband Harry Willson Jr. of Crescent, Oklahoma, two brothers Glenn Dale and Orville Grant Downing Jr., two sisters Georgene Piatt and Marilyn Carrol.

Survivors include her son Garry Willson wife Jan of Crescent, Oklahoma, three grandchildren John Alyssa Willson of Moore, Oklahoma, Carrie Lonnie Sanders of Enid, Oklahoma, and Thomas Katie Willson of Katy, Texas. Five great-grandchildren, Kamy Sanders, Hallie Willson, Hudson Willson, Avery Jo Willson, and another great-granddaughter on the way, and many more nieces and nephews and their children.

Services will be held at the Smith-Gallo Funeral Home in Guthrie, Oklahoma on Saturday, October 16th, 2021, at 10:00 am with interment to follow at Oakland-Knowles cemetery, Crescent, Oklahoma. Casual attire preferred. Live streaming available and link will be provided later. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to your favorite/local youth baseball program. To watch the service live-streamed, please go to Friends may sign the online guestbook at

Source: Trout Funeral Home