2008-05-22 / Obituaries


Josie (Jo) Steele Patton Harrison, a devoted wife and loving mother, Lakewood Washington's first "First Lady" Jo Harrison was born July 28, 1936, in Dickinson, AL, the oldest child of William Pratt Patton and Bonnie White Patton. She passed away peacefully on May 13, 2008, in her Lakewood home after a 6- year illness.

Always a "tomboy" and "Daddy's girl", Josie spent many youthful hours roaming the southern Alabama timberland with her father. After graduation from Grove Hill High School, she attended Judson College in Marion, AL, graduating in 1958. While at Judson, she excelled in many sports, especially Synchronized Swimming and Field Hockey. Later on she was a champion tennis player and bowler who also loved golf, bridge, arts and crafts, flowers, anything purple. Jo was a party giver extraordinaire.

Jo began her teaching career in the 4th Grade at Fort Benning, GA, where, in 1961, she also met 1st Lt. Bill Harrison at a performance of the Messiah. For the next few years, Jo continued to teach, including a stint at a Department of Defense school in Germany, before returning to Grove Hill to head the girls' Physical Education Department while caring for her seriously ill father. Later she began the Elementary Physical Education Program for the Fairfax County, VA school system.

Bill and Jo were married in the historic Stone Chapel at Ft. Leavenworth, KS on October 21, 1967. Thus began a long and successful career at Bill's side, in many locations throughout the US and around the world, including Germany, Iran, Korea and numerous stateside military posts including Carlisle Barracks, PA; Fort Benning, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Ord, CA; Fort Lewis, WA; Presidio of San Francisco, CA.

Two sons entered the Harrison family and became a major focus of Jo's love and lessons, and sources of joy and pride: William Patton Harrison, born January 1970 at Ft. Belvoir, VA, and Charles Hardin Harrison born March 1971 in Frankfurt, Germany. Juggling duties as mother and wife of the commander, Jo created a happy, active life for the family despite seventeen moves in 24 years until Bill's retirement. Second only to her dedication to her family was Jo's commitment to serve the broader Army family. She was active in army community services, family support groups, Officer and NCO wives clubs, Red Cross, Chapel activities, and after retirement, in political activities in Lakewood.

Jo was known far and wide as a gracious and welcoming woman who loved to entertain. With a ready wit and a twinkle in her eye, she brought joy to all who graced her door whether civilian or military, enlisted or officer, child or adult. First as a junior officer's wife, later in Quarters I at Ft. Lewis and in retirement in Lakewood, she was a party giver extraordinaire. Occasionally Jo treated guests from garrison staff to governors to a hilarious anecdote or two stemming from the family's many experiences around the world.

Throughout her life Jo was a rabid University of Alabama fan, perhaps because her father and his eight younger siblings had all graduated from the university. Even in the later years of her illness, she could be coaxed into a "Roll Tide" cheer accompanied by a big smile. Jo loved to shop and, particularly during overseas tours, did her best to enhance the local economy. Her carefully coordinated and very colorful style always drew happy comments. What people didn't know was that Jo did most of her shopping at the Post Exchange.

Jo is survived by her husband, Lieutenant General (RET) William H. Harrison and son William of the home, son Charles (Christie) from California, her brother Pratt (Roselyn) from Alabama and nephews Kyle and Jason Patton.

The family would like to express their sincere appreciation for all of the friends who have supported Jo and the Harrison family during her long illness. We would especially like to thank the care givers from Advanced Health Care: Mary, Barbara, Trinetta, Loli, Catherine, Darlene, Justina, Gerry and scheduler Suzi; and from Franciscan Hospice: Tita, Tina, Susan, Cory and Beverly.

A special note should be made of the steadfast support given by members of the Lakewood, Dupont and Steilacoom Bible Study Group of the Main Post Chapel at Fort Lewis who provided a meal per week for over four years to Jo and her family.

A celebration of Jo's life will be held on Friday, May 23, 2008 at First Baptist Church of Lakewood, 5400 - 112th St. SW, Lakewood, WA 98499, followed immediately by a reception at the Sharon McGavick

Student Center at Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd., SW, Lakewood, WA 98499.

Memorials, if desired, may be made to any of the following:

1. Alzheimer's Association: PO BOX 8462, Chicago, IL 60680- 8462

2. Army Community Services: PO Box 339500; Fort Lewis, WA 98433-9500

3. Judson College: 302 Bibb Street, Marion, AL 36756

4. Franciscan Hospice: 7210 40th Street West University Place, WA 98466

The twinkle in her eye, the smile that lit up every room and the soft Southern charm are things we all remember.

From her husband: I love you, Sugar

From her sons: We love you, Mom

Arrangements by Mountain View Funeral Home. 584-0252. Please sign online guestbook at mountainviewtacoma.com.

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