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Mary "Jo" Testman

March 1, 1939 ~ January 6, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

Mary "Jo" Testman Obituary

     Mary “Jo” Testman, 84, peacefully passed away on January 6, 2024, in Nevada, MO. She was born on March 1, 1939, to James Leroy and June Reese Dellinger in Ottumwa, IA.

Jo grew up in Ottumwa, graduating from Ottumwa High School where she was actively involved in cheerleading and swimming. She attended college at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (Kirksville, MO) from 1957 to 1958, where she met the love of her life, Larry Testman. They were married on May 25, 1958.

Jo continued her education throughout the years while juggling motherhood to her three beloved children. Her educational journey was marked by a near-fatal car accident before graduation. Jo relied on her faith, love from her family, and inner strength to recover. She completed her undergraduate studies at Missouri Southern State College, graduating cum laude in 1971. She went on to complete her Master of Science in Elementary Education, with honors, in 1979 at Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, KS) and pursued additional post-graduate work at Pittsburg State.

She began her teaching career in 1971 at Nevada R-5 School District, primarily as a Kindergarten teacher for decades, touching the lives of thousands of students. She was a member of the Missouri State Teachers Association, Nevada Community Teachers Association, Kindergarten Advisory Council, Young Astronauts, just to name a few. She participated in staff development as a task force member, participant, supervisor, and author of teaching strategies.

She was nominated for Nevada School District’s “Teacher of the Year” twice, winning the award in 1993. She was also honored as the Eisenhower Science and Math Grant recipient for the years 1989, 1990, and 1991. In 1990, she received the President’s Initiative Award for Exemplary Programs. She represented the state of Missouri at a conference in Washington D.C. where she met President Clinton.

Jo was the consummate teacher, and it showed in the love she had for her students. She was particularly concerned for students of all ages who were educationally disadvantaged and strived to impart to each student that they can believe in themselves because she believed in them. She helped children become the best they could be. To quote Jo, “I believe the desire for appreciation is one of the deepest of all human cravings and that I am privileged to be in a position to provide it for my students; I believe that all students possess good qualities and that all students can learn, and I believe that a good beginning never ends.”

Jo participated in many community and church activities throughout her life. As a youth, she attended Davis Street Christian Church in Ottumwa, IA, with several generations of her family. As an adult, she was an active member of the First Christian Church in Nevada, MO, and was elected as one of the first women elders over 50 years ago. For 20 years, she served on the Christian Action and Community Service Committee. She also served on the Drug-Free Schools Advisory Council and the Reading is Fundamental program.

As much as Jo loved teaching, she was truly dedicated to her family. She was thrilled to have family time that often included dinners and special celebrations. One of her most cherished times was her 50th wedding anniversary in Branson, where Jo and Larry celebrated the occasion with a weekend gathering of their children and grandchildren. She loved shopping trips and finding unique special treasures to share. Christmas was her favorite holiday, and she decorated with enthusiasm. At Christmas time, or really any time, she thoroughly enjoyed her desserts—especially chocolate—much to the delight of her kids and grandkids!

Jo is survived by her husband of 65 years, Larry, Lee’s Summit, MO; her children, Mark Testman and wife Susan, Charleston, WV, Cindy Pursley and husband Charlie, Holts Summit, MO, Mike Testman and wife Michelle, Greensboro, GA; seven grandchildren, Jason Testman and Nathan Testman, Charleston, WV, Megan Stone, Sulphur Springs, AR, Nicole Becker, Kearney, MO, April Testman, Parkville, MO, Michael Testman, II, Virginia Beach, VA, and Kelli Jo Richardson, Alexandria, VA; five great-grandchildren, Olivia, Tyler, Lucas, and Cole Testman, Charleston, WV, and Jameson Becker, Kearney, MO. The sixth great-grandchild, baby Stone, is expected in February; her brother, James “Jimmy” Dellinger and wife Karen, Milford, IA; Sister-in-Law Patty Samuels; Nieces Deborah Jepson, Tammy Gibson-Allen, Lisa VanWinkle; and Nephews Brian Dellinger and Mike Gibson.

The family would like to thank the caregivers at Moore-Few Nursing Home and Good Shepherd Hospice Care. For those wishing to make donations in honor of Mary Jo, Good Shepherd Hospice Care, Butler, MO, or Nevada R-5 Foundation is suggested by the family and may be made c/o Ferry Funeral Home in Nevada.

“A memorial celebrating the life of Mary Jo Testman will be held at 1:00, Saturday March 2, 2024 at First Christian Church in Nevada. Following the memorial is an informal gathering of family and friends in the Fellowship Hall with favorite desserts and refreshments.”


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Memorial Service
March 2, 2024

1:00 PM
First Christian Church
204 S. Washington
Nevada, MO 64772
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