Jo Ann Murray (1932-2017)

Jo Ann Murray
July 15, 1932 – April 22, 2017 

Jo Ann Murray, nee Mitchem, age 84, of Shiloh, Ill., born July 15, 1932 in Amigo, W.V., died Saturday, April 22, 2017 at her home.

The oldest of seven children, Jo Ann grew up in a coal mining town in West Virginia. After the death of her mother, Jo Ann was tasked with the responsibility of raising her six younger siblings. Determined to escape an impoverished setting, she joined the Air Force at an early age. While on active duty at Scott Air Force Base, she met her future husband, Richard, a fellow-airman. They were honorably discharged, married and moved to Providence, R.I. where Rick completed university and began his career. In 1962, their life’s journey returned them to the Metro East and they settled in Shiloh.  Jo Ann, by then a mother of three, returned to school at Belleville Area College and then earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from McKendree College in 1977. Jo Ann began work as a part time employee at the Scott AFB MWR Arts and Crafts Center.  Almost twenty years later, she retired as the Director.

Her family and her faith were important to her.  Of all she cherished, art was her true passion. She was a respected member of the Gateway East Artists Guild, and had been honored by the Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her creative talents in 2015.  Jo Ann was an art instructor for many years, often holding classes in her home. She filled her home and the homes of those she loved with beautiful creations including paintings, glass mosaics, and pottery.  However, her happiest moments as an art teacher were making refrigerator art creations with her grandchildren, Sarah, Adam, and Luke Biehn.

Surviving are her children Richard D. (Yvonne) Murray, Jr., of Cobden, Ill., Dorrie (Mark) Krueger of Ladue, Mo., and Susan (Curt) Biehn of O’Fallon, Ill., and her grandchildren, Sarah, Adam, and Lucas Biehn, Andrew Coleman, and Tiffany Woolf.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years Richard Dyer Murray in 2011; and her parents Walter and Flora, nee Powers, Mitchem.

Memorial donations are suggested to the Gateway East Artists Guild, (mail to: Wolfersberger Funeral Home, 102 W. Washington St., O’Fallon, IL 62269) which plans to establish an annual award in Jo Ann’s honor. Online condolences may be offered at

Memorial Services are pending. The family is coordinating a reception in her honor. Following cremation, she will be laid to rest, along with her husband, in a private service at Shiloh Valley Township Cemetery, Shiloh, Illinois.

Arrangements entrusted to Wolfersberger Funeral Home, O’Fallon, Illinois