Mary Jo Shaw Harrison

mary jo harrison

November 21, 1930 ~ April 5, 2024

Born in: Benson, NC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Mary Jo Shaw Harrison, 93, of Glen Falls Road, Asheville, NC, passed away on April 5, 2024. Born in Benson, NC; she was a resident of Raleigh until her marriage in 1952. She was the daughter of the late Joseph Paul Shaw and Mary Franks Penny, of Raleigh.

Mary Jo attended Needam Broughton High School in Raleigh. She was the Vice-President of the English and Spanish clubs and was selected for the National Honor Society. She then went on to Meredith College. During her years there she was President of the Home Economics Club and was chosen for the Sigma pi Alpha Honorary Fraternity. She graduated in 1953 after earning a BS Degree in Home Economics and a Teachers certificate.

During the summers she worked as a teacher at the Methodist Orphanage in Raleigh and as a Dietitian at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. Mary Jo was active in the NC State Wesley Foundation where she met her future husband, Tom. They sang in the choir at Fairmont United Methodist Church together. Upon graduation they married and lived in Atlanta for a year while Tom was in the Army.

After moving to Asheville, Mary Jo taught for a year at Red Oak School in the Weaverville community, leaving for the birth of their first child. They went on to have five children who were all raised in Asheville. In Asheville, she was President of the Home and Garden Club, President of the Jr. Vetust Study Club and was chosen “Outstanding Member of the Year” by the Junior Womens Civic Club. She was a Cub Scout Den Mother. She and Tom took all of 20+ children and grandchildren on nine family trips around the world.

In her home church, Trinity United Methodist, Mary Jo and her husband Tom established and supported the Harrison-Shaw Preaching Mission, which brought an outstanding speaker to the community each year. The Mission continued for 20 years.

At Trinity she contributed leadership as a teacher, Youth Councilor, Lay delegate to the Annual Conference, member of the Administrative Board, member of the Pastor Parish Committee, executive for “Storehouse,” and a leader of the Interdenominational Ministry to Women. She was also chair-person of the Commissions on Missions, Nominations, Education, Family life and Wednesday Night Life Committees. She was a delegate to the Annual Conference.

For several years she held the job as Coordinator of Ministries for Trinity. She was on the board of both Brooks Howell Home and The Givens Estates where she was on the Admissions, Furnishings and Mothers Day Committees. In the local District of the Church, Mary Jo was secretary of the West Asheville Fellowship of Ministers and Staffs, was District Secretary of “Spiritual Life”, District Committee on the Superintendency and District Workshop leader. In the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church Mary Jo was a lay delegate and on the Board of Directors of the International Prayer Fellowship.

Her hobbies and other interests were cooking, china painting, stained glass, reading, sewing, decorating, plants and flowers and raising five children. She had a kind word for all and will be dearly missed by her husband Tom; her children, son, Dan Harrison and his wife Shannon, daughter, Susan Pardue and her husband Darrell, son, Joe Harrison, son, Bob Harrison and his wife Lori, and daughter, Penny Purcell and her husband Dan; her grandchildren, William Pardue and wife Julie, Elizabeth Gill and husband Alec, Harrison Pardue and wife Mollie, Marshall Harrison, Bonnie Alexander and husband Dave, Katie Harrison and husband Kyle Knight, Matthew Purcell and his wife Quincey and Caitlin Martell and husband Kevin; along with ten great-grandchildren, Trevor, Charlotte, Jake, Wells and Walker Gill, Adam Pardue, Billie Alexander, Stu Knight, Reese Purcell and Ellery Martell. There are so many others who called her Grandmommy and Great-Grandmommy. All were very dear to Mary Jo and each was very special to her.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m. at Groce Funeral Home, 1401 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28806. A livestream of the service will be broadcast on this page below. Her family will receive friends before the service beginning at 1:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to The Foundation for Evangelism of the NC United Methodist Church at Lake Junaluska, P.O. Box 985, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745.


Celebration of Life: April 20, 2024 2:00 pm

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


Visitation: April 20, 2024 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


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  1. I have many fond memories of Mary Jo and am so grateful to have known her. My thoughts and prayers go out to Tom and all the family. I always described her as truly the epitome of a Southern woman who emulated grace and hospitality.

  2. What a beautiful, loving lady! When Mary Jo was on your side, clear the road, fellas! Her love and friendship blessed our family greatly, and she will be very sorely missed. Heaven gained an Angel, and is probably a lot more beautiful and well-organized. Prayers for all who love her.

  3. Bob and Lori. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to lose a parent. My prayers are with you and the family. May God carry you through the difficult weeks and months ahead. We have lost touch since I moved away, but I think of you both often. I’ll be thinking of you and your family Bob. Sending my love. Melody Burleson

  4. A very nice lady. I am privileged to have known her and her family, her husband Tom and her children especially Joe, Bob and Penny. I remembered having met her elder children Dan and Susan as well. I frequently visited with her family while I was an undergraduate at Hiwassee college, TN, Warren Wilson Coll, Swannanoa, and UNC-Asheville between 1977 and 1980. I also attended the same church and while the late Rev Ralph L. Reed was the paster there. I last met and visited the late Rev Reed in 2016 (Meth Retirement home, Charlotte) when I was a visiting academic in Ohio University, Athens.

    My deepest condolence to Tom and his family.

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