Mary Jo Carlson

September 25, 2008 - September 25, 2008
Lawton, MI



Thursday, October 2, 2008
11:00 AM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Paw Paw Location
60900 Michigan 40
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-3870
Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Animals Best Friend
PO Box 443
Oshtemo, MI 49077


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Mary Jo Carlson was a stubborn and fiercely independent woman who wasn’t afraid to tell it as it was. She was pretty candid and straightforward about her thoughts and opinions, and was always the first to call someone’s bluff. Her life was not marked by glitz and glamour, but instead a stable and fulfilled commitment to the family, friends and four-legged companions who brought her life incredible joy.

The Great Depression dominated American life in the 1930s. The average income in the U.S. decreased 40% in four years, and hard times caused some to question democracy and capitalism. By the end of the decade, World War II would revive the economy and bring American’s closer together. It was into these trying times that Joseph and Marie (Buckes) Krempp of Peoria, Illinois, welcomed the birth of their daughter, Mary Jo, on October 23, 1936. Mary Jo was one of four Krempp children, the only girl among three brothers.

Mary Jo spent her growing up years in LaGrange, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where her father earned a living working for the railroad. She received her education in the Lyons Township Schools, but left after the 11th grade. At 18, Mary Jo was married and began filling her life with the joy and laughter of five wonderful children: Robert, Kathleen, Thomas, Donald and James. Unfortunately, her marriage ended in divorce after 26 years.

In the late 1960’s, Mary Jo left big city life and moved to the quiet, country in Paw Paw, Michigan. After settling in for a while, she went to work as a bus driver for the Paw Paw Public Schools for 6 years. She then took a job with the State Highway Department, Road Commission, where she remained until retiring close to 20 years of service.

When it came to her leisure time, Mary Jo loved to be outdoors, pursuing one of her many hobbies. Her home boasted of several gardens that she meticulously tended, including a beautiful flower garden, a vegetable and rock garden. Whenever Mary Jo got the opportunity, she enjoyed going deer hunting and fishing with the guys. She had a real soft spot for animals, especially her four Shih-tzus, who she considered her “other” kids and companions, and her birds and cats too. It was only natural that Mary Jo loved watching the Animal Planet with her passion for animals. When she had time to cook, Mary Jo was a great chef, and added all the right spices to make everything delicious; she had a huge spice rack that had everything under the sun to cook with. Perhaps while making her masterpiece in the kitchen, she listened to some country western music, her favorite.

Mary Jo’s most defining trait was her frankness and being outspoken. Like it or not, she told it as it is, and never hesitated to point out an “Oh, that’s BS.” Yet, Mary Jo had a heart full of love for her family, especially her grandchildren, whom she loved dearly. She also had a few close friends she enjoyed getting together with. Mary Jo was especially happy that her granddaughter, Shannon, who was a CNA at the age of 19, was able to care for her in her home until the end. Mary Jo passed away on Thursday, September 25, 2008, at the age of 71.

A celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, October 2, at 11:00 a.m. at Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson, 60900 M-40, Paw Paw (657-3870), followed by a luncheon at the Eagles Lodge. Mary Jo was preceded in death by her parents. Surviving are her five children: Robert Carlson of Lawrence, Kathleen (Chuck) Sullivan of Hartford, Thomas Carlson of Lawton, Donald Carlson of Lawton and James Carlson (Tonia Carver) of Hartford; seven grandchildren: Christa, Brett, Matt, Shannon, Ian, Samantha and Austin; several great-grandchildren; three brothers: Joseph Krempp, Jr., Larry (Jeanie) Krempp and William Krempp; many nieces and nephews. Please visit Mary Jo’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory or photo with her family or sign her online guest book. Memorial contributions may be made to Animals Best Friend.