Jo Ann Renehan Mazoué died peacefully in her sleep at home on August 12, 2021 at age 97. She was born Joanna Virginia Renehan on July 17, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to Capt. John Albert Renehan (USCG) and Joanna Florence (McLaughlin) Renehan. She was preceded in death by her husband Otis Louis Mazoué and son Otis James Mazoué, and her siblings John Renehan, Alexander Renehan, Iva Weber, Burnelle Degrendel, and James Renehan. She is survived by her son, James Mazoué and sisters-in-law Betty (Alexander) Renehan and Margaret (John) Renehan.
Jo Ann spent much of her childhood in Northern Michigan in the Village of Glen Haven, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and in Traverse City. As the daughter of a Coast Guard Captain who served as the first keeper of the North Manitou Shoals Lighthouse, she grew up along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Village of Glen Haven. Recalling her childhood living in a house behind the Coast Guard Station she writes in her Memoirs, “Every morning Glen Haven dawns cool and at daybreak the birds awaken me as they twitter back and forth in trees. I sit up in bed and look out my second story window where the distant woods form a jagged line against a gray sky. The early morning mist is heavy with a flowery perfume. As dawn breaks, for as far as the eye can see, cherry orchards turn the landscape red as they ripen under the warm July sun.”
Jo Ann was a WWII veteran. Shortly after graduation from Northern High School in Detroit, she enlisted in the U. S. Navy and proudly served as a photography specialist at Camp Shoemaker in California. Returning to Detroit after the war, she worked for a photography business before meeting her future husband. They were married in 1947 at St. Anthony’s Church and soon thereafter relocated to New Orleans and established their home in Metairie where they raised two sons.
Throughout her life Jo Ann pursued her passion for photography and writing. She developed her own photographs at home, using the kitchen sink and bathtub as her workshop. With the advent of digital photography and video, she enthusiastically switched to computer-based photo editing and printing. Jo Ann was also dedicated to perfecting her craft as a writer. She published a historical novel, Queen of the Island, in 1993 and was editing the final drafts of two other unpublished books at the time of her death. A free-lance writer early in her career, she published more than a hundred articles in national magazines and her short stories were published in two anthologies and in various literary journals. Always seeking to improve her writing, she attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop at Middlebury College in Vermont, and creative writing seminars at Louisiana State University. She studied fiction writing with Pulitzer Prize winning author Shirley Ann Grau at St. Mary’s Dominican College and corresponded with Walker Percy, Sally Fitzgerald, Andrew Lytle, and Caroline Gordon.
Jo Ann was an avid tennis player. She enjoyed gardening and tending to her grapefruit and tangerine trees and blueberry bushes. At harvest time she would share the fruits of her labor with friends and relatives as well as donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank. She was a retired member of Local #328 Pari-Mutuel Union.
Jo Ann’s life spanned the Great Depression, a World War, and ended during a global pandemic. Throughout these trying times, she was sustained by a selfless commitment of service to her family and friends, her faith, and her country. Self-sacrifice and self-improvement were the defining qualities of character that helped Jo Ann overcome adversity and transform challenges into life-affirming opportunities that uplifted the lives of those who were fortunate to know and love her.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Metairie on Thursday August 19 at 11:00 A.M. by Rev. Beau Charbonnet, Pastor of St. Angela Merici Church. Interment followed at Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery with U. S. Navy Military Honors.