HOMEWOOD, Ill. -- Josephine "Mary Jo" French Whitfield, 88, formerly of Owensboro, passed away Thursday, June 20, 2019. She passed peacefully surrounded by caregivers and loving friends at the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility in Flossmoor, Illinois. Mary Jo was born May 6, 1931, at Crane Pond in Daviess County to the late Pearl Pope French and William H. French. Mary Jo was the last of eight siblings to depart this earth.

Mary Jo grew up on a small farm at Crane Pond in the Pleasant Ridge area. She was an active member of the Pleasant Point Baptist Church in Philpot. Mary Jo attended Carver County grade school in Owensboro, then after attending Western High School, she attended Kentucky State College. While attending Kentucky State, Mary Jo was inducted into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Alpha Phi Chapter and she was also selected as Miss Kentucky State by the student body. She was not only a lovely caring person but she was also a real beauty.

After graduating from Kentucky State College, she married Alex Whitfield and moved to the suburbs of Chicago to begin her teaching career with her spouse. Alex Whitfield, her spouse, passed in 2003 after a long illness during which Mary Jo was the primary caregiver. During her retirement, Mary Jo was heavily involved in the Mayo AME Church in Matteson, Illinois, where she did various volunteer activities. Mary Jo was also very active in her Homewood community.

She is survived by two children, Mark Whitfield and Marla Whitfield Matt; a multitude of loving nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and great-great-nieces, great-great-nephews, cousins, her special sister-in-law Gwendolyn French and a loving and caring friend, Carolyn Smith. Mary Jo was a beautiful person with a loving heart and soul who left behind many loving friends and family members.

Mary Jo was preceded in death by her siblings, Henry French, Viola French, Chester French, William French, Rosella French Porterfield, Roscoe Howard Moorman French Sr. and John Maurice French Sr.

In lieu of flowers or cards, please make donations to Mary Jo Whitfield's church. Mary Jo's pastor, Harold L. Barnwell, faithfully visited her during her last years.

The church's mailing address is Mayo AME Church, P.O. Box 245, Matteson, IL 60443.