Mary Jo Morgan Wedgeworth, the mother of U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn and a noted advocate for gardening and volunteerism, died April 15 at the age of 97.
"My beautiful mother, Mary Jo Morgan Wedgeworth, 97, was a lifelong resident of Laurel, a woman of God, and avid gardener," Blackburn shared in a statement earlier this month. "She was a role model and taught me the importance of leaving things in better shape than you found them."
Her funeral service was held April 19 in her home of Laurel, Miss.
Below is her obituary, provided by Sen. Blackburn's press office:
Mary Jo Morgan Wedgeworth
Dec. 30, 1924-April 15, 2022
The funeral was held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April at Memory Chapel Funeral Home in Laurel, Miss., followed by the family burial at Memorial Gardens.
Mrs. Wedgeworth was a lifelong resident of Laurel. During her youth, she was the 1944 winner of the National 4-H Club Girl Achievement award and the President’s Trophy. This was awarded to her at the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. She continued to be an active participant in Mississippi 4-H Club programs, serving in numerous leadership roles and always serving as a local 4-H club leader. She served on the Mississippi 4-H Club board and as president of the Mississippi Extension Service Homemakers and FCE Club.
She was a member of First Baptist Church and active in women’s programs and Sunday school. She especially loved providing beautiful flower arrangements made with cuttings from her garden for church events.
She was active in the the Mississippi Council of Garden Clubs, where she served as president, and the Deep South Garden Club Council as a nationally accredited flower-show judge and in the Waynesboro Drive Garden Club. She was known for her entertaining and educational programs on flower-arranging, gardening and recycling.
In 1987, she was honored by Keep America Beautiful with the lifetime achievement award for her exceptional efforts to keep our nation beautiful. Some of her efforts included working to develop the Avenue of Magnolias at each of Mississippi’s interstate state-line entrances and also the garden club wildflower program. One of her mottos was to “leave things in better shape than you found them.”
In 1976 she was honored with the Mississippi Volunteer Activist award for the thousands of hours she gave in volunteer service to her community. Indeed, her community activism began early with organizing victory gardens to support America’s efforts during World War II.
Mrs. Wedgeworth was active in the Jones County Republican Party, holding various offices and serving as chairman of both the Jones County Republican Women and the Mississippi Federation of Republican Women.
Mrs. Wedgeworth was a docent for the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, where she so enjoyed giving tours and teaching children about the collections at the museum. For decades, she served on the board of the Red Cross and always had helping hands to assist victims of hurricanes and disasters who sought shelter from the storm. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she and her husband Hilman welcomed and served meals to hundreds who fled to the Red Cross shelter in Laurel.
She was married to Hilman Wedgeworth for 67 years, and he preceded her in death. She was also preceded in death by her parents Thomas and Emmie Jo Meeks Morgan; brothers Hollis, Thomas (Marge), Preston (Gert), Charlie (Delores), Vernon (Narcissa), Ben (Gay) and Donald (JoAnn); and son-in-law Dan Miller.
She is survived by her children James (Jane) Wedgeworth, Marsha (Chuck) Blackburn and Karen Miller; grandchildren Mary Morgan (Paul) Ketchel, Chad (Hillary) Blackburn, Brandi Jane (Jason) Graham, Marsha (Drew) Hunter, Chip (Madalyn) Wedgeworth, David (Abbey) Wedgeworth, McKensie Miller; brothers Howard (Eloise) Morgan, Roy (Barbara) Morgan and Marion (Elaine) Morgan; 16 great-grandchildren and a host of beloved nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel.