Mary Jo Scarborough was born June 22, 1932 to William and Jewel Clark in Dalton, Georgia, during the depths of the Great Depression. She moved with her family to Rome, GA in fifth grade where she attended Rome public schools and the Maple Street Baptist Church.
After graduating from Rome High School, Mary Jo studied music at Shorter College and then received her Master’s in Music from the University of Kentucky in 1955. That same year, Mary Jo Clark married the love of her life, George Francis Scarborough.
They spent the first year of their marriage in Georgetown, Kentucky, where George worked while finishing his degree at UK. Mary Jo taught high school and was church organist and choir director at the Georgetown Episcopal Church. A Southern Baptist her entire life, Mary Jo worked her adult years as a music director in Episcopal churches in Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Upstate New York. Every year, the highlight of her musical life was conducting midnight Christmas Eve services while playing and directing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
Between 1957 to 1963, she and George had three children while living in Georgia. Over the next 20 years, Mary Jo worked as a church music director, a public school teacher and as a piano instructor who insisted that her three children be a part of those piano classes.
Spending most of her life in the South, Mary Jo and her family moved to Upstate New York in 1973 before finally settling in Pensacola, Florida in 1978, where she could be close to her beloved mother and sister Carolyn Hawkins. There she and her husband George became national directors of a scholarship pageant contest the “Miss American Coed Pageant.” Though their efforts began as a side project after their daughter Carol participated in a pageant, hard work and determination that would exemplify her life helped build one of the largest pageant organizations in America.
After retiring in 2003, Mary Jo and George spent most of their time with their children, grandchildren and friends at First Baptist Church in Pensacola.
Mary Jo and George were deeply in love and inseparable throughout their 55-year marriage. When George died in 2011, Mary Jo told friends and family members that her prayer was to be joined again with her husband and mother in heaven.
On Saturday, March 2, 2019 Mary Jo Clark Scarborough finally had her prayers answered after suffering from dementia for seven years. She passed away peacefully with her loving sister and devoted daughter at her side. The family is so grateful for the dedication shown by all of the caretakers who helped us navigate the tremendous challenges that come with dementia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests any gifts be directed to the Alzheimer’s tribute page for Mary Joe Scarborough at the Alzheimer's Association website.
Mary Jo was predeceased by her parents, William Arthur and Jewel Thomas Clark, her brother Bill Clark and her sister Margaret Sutton. She is survived by her sister Carolyn Hawkins and her children Carolyn Ward, George Scarborough and Joe Scarborough, their spouses John Ward, Sara Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski Scarborough; and her grandchildren Ian Ward, Ginger Ward, Julie Ward Fowler, Emily Scarborough Wilt, Benjamin Scarborough, Joey Scarborough, Andrew Scarborough, Katherine Scarborough and Jack Scarborough as well as great-grandchildren Caroline and Olivia Wilt, along with a great grandson due in late March.
Celebration of Life Service will be Saturday, March 9, 2019 at First Baptist Church, 500 N. Palafox St. in Pensacola, FL at 11:30 a.m.
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