On June 2, 1941, a baby girl, Jo Ellen, was born unto O L Daley and Mary Lee (Hickenbottom) Pickering, residents of Clovis, N.M. Jo quickly grew to be a hazel-eyed beauty with dark hair. One of Jo’s favorite people was her Mamaw in Amarillo, Tx. Jo was also especially fond of her daddy who inspired in her a special love of baseball and the Boys Ranch of Texas. The family moved multiple times eventually settling in Liberal, Kansas, where, at one point, Jo Ellen worked at the first Sonic Drive-in there. Jo loved reminiscing of the number of chocolate shakes she made on opening night. Jo was feisty and once recalled an attempt to hit her brother Lee Roy with a brick. She was the older sister of Wendy and Eileen; and later in life she was blessed with her siblings Tina, John and Cody.
Jo Ellen became a young mother to Dale, Carol, Cheri, Cathy and Brian Starr. She told stories of keeping babies during her elementary school years...one story involved a nine year old, herself, watching over nine “little” ones when their Mommas went “honky tonking.” With her sense of humor and tenacity, Jo instilled in her children that there were adventures to be had, fun to be shared, and a need to explore. While
living in Forgan, Oklahoma, she worked hard to raise her children, It was not unusual to see her atop a ladder or trying her hand at plumbing. Jo loved flowers and gardening. Jo diligently set about to make things as nice as possible for her children. There are fond memories of fudge and makeshift tents created with sheets during snow days. Throughout her life Jo enjoyed history and documentaries. For years Jo bowled on a league with a very dear friend, Marge. Jo sang on a few occasions in Church, never quite certain that she “did justice” for her Lord.
One of her favorite jobs was as waitress at the Forgan Depot Steakhouse. During that time, Jo met and married Richard Cranford, whom added two children to her clan, Richie Cranford and Carrie Cranford. After a December wedding, the couple enjoyed four decades of love and friendship, while working and playing together. A few months before Rich’s passing, Jo admitted to one of her children that it continued to thrill her heart each time he entered the room.
Her various endeavors involved owning a convenience store in Turpin, Oklahoma, as well as many years spent as receptionist for Streiff Chiropractor in Liberal, Kansas, and she maintained a friendship with both Streiff brothers long after she moved on. Jo returned to her childhood home in Liberal that had a favorite feature for the grandchildren. Her daddy had built extremely wide steps leading up to the loft bedroom creating a cozy platform for play and observation. The grands remember playing in Grammie’s nighties and makeup while waiting for holiday meals to be prepared.
Upon moving to Texas, Rich and Jo opened a Daylight Donut Shop where they served the community of Fritch for several years. Many friends and family members were treated to the delicious baked goods. The items that remained unsold each day were donated to the local daycare. Jo traveled from work to watch grandkids play sports. She was thrilled when children and grandchildren visited. Great memories were made as she and Rich took children on fishing trips...or when she would jump in the car as someone came by enroute to Amarillo for a shopping expedition.
It was while living in Fritch that Jo began to more fully grasp the grace and mercy of our Lord. She thrived under the teaching of Pastor Blake Westbrook. When she and Rich moved back to Forgan to retire, Jo loved to go to ladies Bible study. While in Forgan, she resumed the task of babysitting for grands from time to time. Some of her great grandchildren will always remember the board games, golf cart rides, and sleepovers. Jo enjoyed teaching the little ones how to make jewelry. During Jo’s last months some of the “littles” enjoyed helping by taking her vitals, etc.
Jo and Rich had a perfect arrangement that allowed them to spend four months each year in Southfork, Colorado, where they made lifetime friends and served as RV camp hosts. Each year, anxious to be in the mountains, Rich would leave a few weeks early to then call home daily to express his longing for Jo’s arrival to join him. Jo hosted a ladies day during some of those summers. Family would visit them to share the experience of beautiful mountains and lakes.
Similar to his trips to Colorado, Rich went ahead of Jo to Heaven, this time it was she that was so anxious to go to him. “We had hoped for Jesus to gather us up together with no more goodbyes.” Though when Jo realized that her time on earth might not be long, her desire was to be in her home in Forgan, closer to most of her children and her friend, Larry Weaver. The companionship was of great joy and encouragement to them. They shared a love of southern gospel music, dancing, and relaxing drives. Through tears and pain there was always laughter between them.
Many of Jo Ellen’s friends and family are with Jesus now, favored cousins, her parents, brother LeeRoy Pickering and wife Doris. Jo joined them on Aug 15, 2023, and we are assured that there is no other place she would rather be. While she was with us, Jo expressed an encouragement to her sister, “we will be together again.”
Children and Grandchildren are as follows:
Dale Starr & Patricia; Preston Starr & Christi; Draven
Carol Nichols; Kira Nichols White & Curtis; Isaiah, Hannah, Cason, Layla, Elijah, Miah
Blake Nichols & Jennifer; Riley, Kade, Zane
Cheri Myles & Rodney; Chelby Chockley; Morgan Underhill & Tyrell, Trevor, Macee, Paislee
Adam Johnston; Riggin, Rankin
Cathy Meyer & David; Chelsy Waters; Layni, Isabel
Brian Starr & Leah; Hunter Starr & Alexis
HaLeigh Hall & Hunter
Brandon Porter; Devyn, Reese
Ashlea Skipper & CJ; Miles, Porter, Graham
Richie Cranford & Tammy; Ashley Williams & Tanner; Matt Cranford & Samantha
Tiffany Fowler & Chad; Kinsleigh, Brooklyn, Coy
Kristopher Elston: Kash, Konner, Mason
Carrie Cranford Sadler; Taylor Smith, Trace Woods, Tylan Woods
Other remaining family members of Jo Ellen Pickering Cranford:
Wendy Pickering Jacobs and Dennis
Eileen Pickering Birdsong and John
Tina Pickering O’Leary and Brent
Cody Pickering and Tracy
Much loved nieces, nephews and cousins
A precious sister in law & friend Sue Goldsby
Her best friend of 65 yrs. LouElla Reese
Blessings to Scotty and the care of the Hospice Nurses
To Honor the life of Jo Ellen Pickering Cranford
please consider a donation to one of the following:
First Baptist Church Forgan
P.O. Box 9
Forgan, OK 73938
Cal Farley Boys Ranch
600 SW 11th Ave
Amarillo, TX 79101
Autism Foundation of Oklahoma
P.O. Box 42133
OKC, OK 73123
Memorial services will be conducted at First Baptist Church, Forgan, Ok.
Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 4:00 pm
Pastor Cole and Dennis Jacobs will officiate
All friends and family are invited for a meal in the fellowship hall after the service
Interment will follow in Forgan Cemetery