Jo Hannaford, widow of Bruce Hannaford, died on June 8, 2020 after a period of declining health. She was at home, comforted and cared for, when she did not wake from an evening nap. She was 91 years old.
Josephine Cox was the youngest of five children born to Anthony Jerome Cox and his wife, Jeffie Mae Bourland Cox. Jo was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1928 at the family home in Amory, Mississippi. Her early childhood memories included picking cotton, and attending a local elementary school where she sold homegrown produce to afford school supplies during the hardship of the Great Depression. Her three older brothers all served in World War II, but only one lived to return home. After graduating first in her high-school class, she followed a path chosen by relatively few women of the era, enrolling at Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi and obtaining a degree in Home Economics in May of 1951. Next, Jo joined her sister Polly Gilmore in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and began working as a lab analyst at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory—in the same division as Bruce Hannaford. Bruce and Jo’s courtship blossomed after an encounter in a stairwell and a chance meeting at a local restaurant. They married on February 18, 1954.
Together they raised two children in the Emory Heights neighborhood. Their firstborn daughter, Pamela Carol Hannaford (Billings) arrived in 1956. Their son, Bruce “Allen” Hannaford was born in 1958. Jo had a career outside the home as an antiques dealer with a shop named “Heritage Antiques,” and was well known for her skills in quilting and refinishing furniture. She was always on the lookout for bargains, loved to bid at auctions, and on family trips would insist on stopping at roadside shops to collect inventory for her business. Jo leaves behind a legacy of many handmade heirlooms. Her needlework and craft creations furnished her home and will remain family treasures.
She was a long-time member of the New York Avenue Church of Christ, and served there for many years as a volunteer teacher in the preschool “Thursday School” program. Over the years, she and Bruce took several recreational bus trips with many fellow congregants—forging long-lasting friendships that were also well-documented in Bruce’s photography.
Jo was a member of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) and actively supported women having robust careers outside the home. She was passionate about the power of participating in elections, and took her children to the polls so they could experience democracy in action.
Jo was preceded in death by her husband Bruce in 2017 and by her son Allen in 2008. Her daughter Pam presently resides in Greer, South Carolina with her husband Michael Billings, and is mother to two children, Carolyn Billings Tapie of Tampa, Florida and Lee Billings of Astoria, New York. Allen was survived by his wife, Paula Couture Hannaford, and two children, Ryan Michael Hannaford and Erin Marie Hannaford, all of Terre Haute, Indiana. In addition to these four beloved grandchildren, Jo was blessed with a great granddaughter, Diana Michal Tapie of Tampa, Florida and two great grandsons, Shepard Kuiper Billings and Miles Kepler Billings of Astoria, New York.
The surviving family expresses gratitude toward the many caregivers of The Home Option, who provided loving consistent care in her home.
The cremation services are provided by Jackson Funeral Services in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. An online guestbook is available at: jacksonfuneralservices.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Southeastern Children’s Home of Spartanburg, SC (sech.org); the Pat Summitt Foundation (patsummitt.org), or another charity of the donor’s choosing.
To leave a note for Jo’s family or to sign the online guestbook family go to jacksonfuneralservices.com.
Jackson Funeral Services is handling the arrangements for the Hannaford Family.
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