JEFFERSON - Martha Jo Blackstock, 103, Jefferson, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 in the same house in which she was born January 30, 1918.
She was the oldest daughter of the late Clarence Millard Blackstock and the late Leila Mae Bailey Blackstock. She was preceded in death by her sister, Hilda Sue Blackstock Tonge; and her nephew, Walter Hodges Tonge.
Her parents valued education and found a way to send both girls to college despite the depression, a gift Martha Jo remained grateful for her entire life. She graduated from Martin Institute in 1930 and went on to attend Piedmont College obtaining a Bachelor of Arts with an eye on teaching. In 1938, she began her career in education at Lakemont High School in Lakemont. Some of her students were older than she was!
Two years later she was recruited by Mr. Henry Ash to return to the Jefferson City School System where she taught whatever subject was needed, including French(!) but found her greatest satisfaction as a high school math teacher. She led her classroom with kindness, devotion and fairness, earning the respect and love of her students. In 1962 she earned her Master’s Degree in education from the University of Georgia and was promoted to school administration becoming one of the first female high school principals in Georgia. As principal, she tirelessly attended every event, collecting admissions, supporting the school and, of course, maintaining order. Still, she did miss the classroom experience of teaching students one-on-one.
After 38 years in education, Martha Jo retired to care for her aging relatives. Although never married, she was an active aunt, great-aunt and even great-great-aunt. She and her sister lived together, splitting responsibilities. Hilda tended the vegetable garden and did the cooking, while Jo mowed the grass, tended the flowers and cleaned the house. She never missed her daily walk. She continued to teach, tutoring children and supervising homework until her eyesight began to fade.
Martha Jo was a long-time member of Academy Baptist Church, serving as the pianist for many years and completing a written history of the church at age 96. She enjoyed many deep friendships with people of all ages and had an ability to connect with others through conversation. She could change gears easily from reminiscing to discussions of current events. Her insight was sharp and she embraced change, even learning to operate a cell phone at the age of 100. Martha Jo was a unique window into an earlier time. Her values were an example to those around her. She inspired people to be better and do better. She touched many, many people during her lengthy life and her legacy lives on.
The family is forever grateful for the loving, faithful care provided by Misty Griffith, her caregiver, over the last five years. Martha Jo counted her as one of her most special blessings. Also appreciated was the friendship provided by Jack Purcell. Together, they spent many enjoyable hours reading books and The Jackson Herald articles.
Miss Blackstock is survived by her first cousins, Stevie Gower, Jane Davis, Hugh Blackstock Jr. and Martha Chapman; her great-niece, Suzy Perry; great-nephew, Andy Tonge (Martha); great-great nieces, Brooke Streetman, Kara Waldrop (Dustin) and Kadi Barber (Zach); and great-great nephews, Tan, TJ and Drew Tonge. Miss Blackstock’s niece by marriage, Betty Tonge, also survives.
Graveside service: Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 10 a.m. in the Academy Baptist Church Cemetery with the Reverend Eric Shelton officiating.
In keeping with Martha Jo’s concern for COVID-19, please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts in memory of Miss Martha Jo Blackstock, be made to the charity of one’s choice.
Evans Funeral Home, Inc., 1350 Winder Highway, Jefferson, Georgia. Online condolences at www.evansfuneralhomeinc.com.