Mary Jane Mayo DeVoe, 82 of Overland Park, who passed away March 19, 2022, met Army Specialist Fourth Class Smith DeVoe in Concord, Massachusetts and married him in 1961. Nine months later they had twins Susan and Mark. The family stayed together as Smith’s assignments moved them from place to place, but his orders to Vietnam as a young second lieutenant sent Mary Jane back east with the kids to await his return. They could not see or speak to each other for a solid year.
She was an Army wife for 26 years and for several years was the head of the household raising the twins while Smith was assigned to distant duty stations. No matter where she went or with whom she met, she was interested in their stories. Whether it was a brief encounter in a checkout line or a server in a restaurant, she had time for them and they walked away feeling better for having met her.
Mary Jane was a small-town Concord girl who touched the lives of people all over the world. She had no patience for anyone who tried to marginalize any of her fellow human beings. She did not see gender, sexual orientation or race. She saw a person. Mark describes his mother as “classy, sassy and badassy.” If you knew Mary Jane, he said, you knew she could break out in song at any time no matter where she was, a trait that could embarrassed the twins when they were young. She loved ABBA and saw the musical “Mama Mia” 7 times.
She loved to explore new and interesting places around the world. While the family was in Germany, she attended French cooking school in Paris and couldn’t wait to get back to the states to host parties to demonstrate her newly acquired skills. She loved hosting parties and annual events for her friends and family. Sunday “Funday” became a weekly event for the entire family, a tradition that will continue.
During the family’s time in the military, she was involved in numerous activities. In Germany, she served as the Officers’ Wives president of the 3d Infantry Division and the Wives Support Group for the 123d Signal Battalion. At Fort Leavenworth, she was the director of religious education for St Ignatius Catholic Church and was involved in the Youth of the Chapel program. She also served as a Catholic mass lector in many locations.
After Smith retired from the Army in 1983, they moved back to Kansas City to be closer to family and old friends where Mary Jane earned her AA degree at UMKC and Smith launched his second career with Deluxe Check Printers. That job sent the family Colorado Springs, St Paul and Champaign, Il. During their 10 years in Champaign, she served as a board member of Developmental Services, the Don Moyer Boys and Girls club and United Way.
Mary Jane was born in Concord August 25th, 1939 to Charles and Agatha Marsh Mayo. She passed away peacefully with her family at her side at St Lukes hospital. Besides Smith and the twins, she is survived by grandchildren Alexandra and Dillon DeVoe, Susan’s wife, Mary Pflanz, two brothers, Thomas and William Mayo, a sister, Susan Hays, and four great grandchildren. The Cremation Center of Kansas City handled the arrangements. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the World Wildlife Fund, her favorite of all charities, at 1250 24th Street, N.W., Washington, DC, 20037.
Smith’s parting comment: “Everyone you touched will miss you deeply, Mary Jane, You were the best.”
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