JSU retiree now has more time for genealogy

Mark and Jo Ann Washington at their home near Jacksonville.

Photo by Stephen Gross

 Jacksonville State University retiree Jo Ann Washington has always had a love of genealogy. Since her retirement from JSU in 1996 she’s had more time to pursue it.

“I’ve loved it for a long time and I wanted to know more about my ancestors,” she said.

She’s researched her husband Mark’s family also and has traced his family back to his 35th great-grandmother. She’s also found out that he is George Washington’s third cousin seven times removed. She hasn’t been as fortunate tracing her family yet, but she’s still working on it.

Jo Ann worked at JSU 34 years. In her last job there, she was admission officer in the College of Graduate Studies. She has fond memories of her supervisors, Buddy Tredaway, Ed Fain, Dawn Van Keuren and Dr. William Carr.

“I hate to think about people who don’t like their work or their bosses,” she said. “I could never say that. I always had wonderful bosses and wonderful people to work with.”

Jo Ann chose to retire at the age of 55 because that number had been in her mind for many years.

“I have no idea why,” she said.

When she left JSU, she realized how much time she’d have for many things. She and Mark have enjoyed traveling, and that includes several cruises. She’s an active member of the John H. Forney Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Her second great-grandfather, Edward H. Elliott, was a soldier in the Confederacy.

A lot of their traveling is associated with the fact that she and Mark are old car enthusiasts. They attend several car shows a year.

“The Lord is very special to me,” Jo Ann said. “My church is a special part of my life.”

The Washingtons are members of First Baptist Church. Jo Ann has served in several positions and is currently on the nominating committee and helps count money.

Jo Ann was born in Birmingham. Her father was minister. He moved his family several times. She graduated from high school in Albertville. She was secretary to the president at Snead State and was a friend of the basketball and baseball coach who was also Mark’s friend. To Jo Ann’s delight, the coach walked into her office one day accompanied by “the most handsome fellow” she’d ever met.

She and Mark began dating several weeks later. They’ve been married 53 years. They were married by her father and Rev. Durro Wood of Jacksonville at a church in Carbon Hill.

“He’s the better half and I’m the lucky half,” she said. “I don’t know how you can get any better than that.”

The Washingtons’ son, Joe Mark, is a pilot for United Airlines. He’s based in Guam.

“I’ve had a wonderful life,” she said. “I have a wonderful husband and a special son.”

Jo Ann’s sister, Marie Henson, lives in Fairhope.

Jo Ann said she’s not a fan of cooking, but likes to have healthy food for herself and for Mark.

Contact Margaret at



   Preheat over to 400 degrees. Spray casserole dish lightly with cooking spray.

1/2 box spaghetti                                    

1/2 lb. ground round                                   

1/4 bell pepper, chopped                           

1 small onion, chopped                               

1 can diced tomatoes

1 t. mustard

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 - 8 oz. pkg. grated cheddar cheese

   Brown onion and pepper in butter or bacon drippings. Add meat and simmer until it turns color. Bring 2 cups salted water to boil.

   Add spaghetti and cook until tender. Drain off excess water and add spaghetti to meat mixture. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

   Place in casserole dish and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

   Back in over 15-20 minutes until cheese begins to brown and ingredients begin to bubble.


1 (8-count) roll crescent rolls

1 lg. apple, cut into 1/8             

1 c. sugar

1 stick butter

1 c. orange juice

   Cut apple into eighths. Unroll and separate crescent rolls. Place an apple slice in each crescent roll.

Roll up and place in a 9x12x2 inch pan. Set aside. Bring to a boil 1 cup sugar, butter and orange juice.  Pour over prepared crescent rolled apples.

   Bake in preheated over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown and about half liquid is gone.


1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 c. mayonnaise

1 c. sour cream

2 T. chopped onion

2 T. chopped water chestnuts

1 pkg. Knorr vegetable soup mix

   Mix ingredients and chill.