Mary Jo Merritt Schwab passed away peacefully on February 19, 2019 at the Rocky Mountain Care facility in Logan, Utah. Her family is grateful that they were able to spend many hours at her bedside in her final few days. She valiantly endured her physical trials to the end of her earthly life.
Mary Jo was born in Afton, Wyoming on May 23, 1939 to Joseph Marvin Merritt and Lera Barrus Merritt. She was the seventh of eleven children. Mary Jo grew up in Thayne, Wyoming and learned to work hard at a young age on the family dairy farm. She graduated from Star Valley High School in Afton in 1957 and then graduated from Utah State University with a degree in elementary education.
While in high school, mom was named Yearbook Queen and played in a dance band named “The Clefs”. The student body president that year, and also a member of “The Clefs” dance band, was named Scott. Apparently he made an impression on her, because on June 30, 1961 she married her sweetheart, Scott Kingston Schwab in the Logan, Utah Temple. Together they raised and nurtured their five children in love and harmony. He preceded her in death in 2007. It comforts our hearts to think of their reunion. Mom had long awaited that joyous day.
Mom worked for many years as a music teacher, teaching band and orchestra in elementary and junior high schools throughout Star Valley. She taught the younger students and dad taught the high school students. The team-teachers are together again. No doubt they have already organized a heavenly choir.
Mom was born with a gift for music and a love of teaching and sharing music. She shared her talents with many throughout her lifetime. She had the gift of true pitch, could sight-read just about any music, and was an accomplished pianist. She was sought-after as a piano teacher and accompanist and enjoyed working with individual students and groups throughout her life. She especially had fond memories of working with Utah Festival Opera Company on the production of Peter Pan.
Mom had a love of arranging and writing music as well. She created beautiful arrangements and medleys; some of which will be used as music for her funeral. She loved flowers, gardening, and making things grow. One of her greatest delights was to plant and tend her beautiful flower beds. She delighted in the colors and shapes of flowers and always knew the types and varieties of each. She loved playing Scrabble with her family, traveling with her husband, and supporting her children in all of their activities.
She truly loved her family. She let us know often that her prayers and thoughts were always with us. She was a devoted and faithful mother and will be greatly missed. Her influence also extends to the hundreds of students who were taught by her, as she instilled a love and appreciation of music in their hearts.
This musical legacy continues through the generations of her family and others who were touched by her gift.
She was a faithful, lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as a Relief Society President and in a variety of musical callings and roles throughout her life; in church, civic and community events, and for home, school and family performances.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Scott; brothers LaVon, Orrin, and Alan; and grandson Andrew Schwab. She is survived by her five children: Carol Ann (Sterling) Larsen of Louisville, Kentucky; Sandra Kay (Bruce) Walker of Soda Springs, Idaho; Orrin (Valeta) Schwab of Providence, Utah; Tracy (John Joseph) Schwab of Cheverly, Maryland; and Ryan (Erin) Schwab of Mesa, Arizona. She is also survived by brothers Dean, Lavere, and Wayne and sisters Marie, Beth, Marlene and Bonnie; 23 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
We know how much those at the Pioneer Valley Lodge enjoyed mom’s piano playing after meals and on other occasions. The family wishes to thank the many friends who associated with her and loved and served her during the years that she lived there. She in return loved to share her musical talents in this way. The family wishes to thank all of the medical and hospice care providers at Cache Valley Hospital, CNS Home Health Hospice, and Rocky Mountain Care, who kindly and compassionately cared for mom in her final illness.
Funeral services under the direction of Schwab Mortuary will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, February 23, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints building at 2540 North 400 East, North Logan, Utah, with a viewing that morning from 10:00-11:30 a.m. Interment will be in the Afton Cemetery later that afternoon. Condolences may be expressed online at www.schwabmortuary.com
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