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Obituary: Jolene Reed

September 4, 1946—January 28, 2019

Jo Reed, 72, passed on January 28, 2019 after a two-year battle with cancer. Once upon a time in Twin Falls, Idaho, Jolene (Jo) Harshbarger was born to Joseph and Zoe (Durfee) Harshbarger, the second daughter and fourth of five children. While she had her share of tough times she made her life seem to others as a storybook. Jo recalled from her childhood when all five siblings would gather for dinner and have thoughtful discussions about real topics affecting their lives. Maybe this is where she developed her “no-nonsense” approach to life. Her ability to zero in on the root of the matter to be learned or acted upon would be her character. Her oldest sister Jeane recalls that Jo smiled all the time as a baby; she always smiled at people; when she later recognized the value of a smile, she did it to make others feel better. As a 7th grader, Jo joined Youth for Christ, became a Christian later that year and laid a Christ-centered foundation on which she built her life story. Her YFC leaders continued to mentor until the last chapter. Friendships, developed through this program, were also lifelong. An avid reader, Jo was often the smartest girl in class. She loved music and played cello in the orchestra. Jo told how her sisters would attract the crowds, Jeane with her charm and Rona with her brilliant wit, but she tended to relate better with her teachers and the adults in her life. Someone described her as having a mature intelligence, which fits well. As a National Merit Scholar she graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1964. She attended University of Idaho in Moscow for one year, married Raymond Poe, also of Twin Falls, and had two sons. The family lived in Hazelton and Nampa before settling in Meridian in 1971. She wasted no time reconnecting with her YFC alum, began intense Bible studies, and started attending Meridian United Methodist Church. The next chapter of her life introduced Leonard Reed, whom she married and often commented on his Paul Newman-like eyes. She learned office management while working for Dr. Drennan in Meridian during the 1980s and then became the office manager for Nampa First United Methodist Church in the 1990s and Meridian United Methodist Church in the 2000s. Because she had a passion for church libraries she became a member and eventually served on the board of the Pacific Northwest Association of Church Libraries. Several who knew Jo for years observed she didn’t speak ill toward anyone. Jo had a talent to see only the good in people and then would embellish even that to create a larger-than-life version of everyone she knew. She was always the last to give up on someone and truthfully never did. Jo’s children, grandchildren, and family members were a source of joy and benefited from her encouraging spirit. All agree she was a natural grandma with her unending, non-judging, open-armed love. Her wisdom was cherished and timely. No story is without a tragedy, and Jo’s was the loss of her son, Eric, who died too early of cancer. Even through this heartbreak, she exemplified loving God no matter her circumstance.

Jo’s passion for learning led her to teaching. She immersed herself in the study of early Methodism and taught midweek classes initially to new members and eventually to any member wishing to learn. One opportunity she spoke about often and with great joy was holding worship services at a local retirement home. Jo’s love of people and knowledge of God’s Word prepared her to fill the position of Lay Servant in the local congregation. While she would want us to live happily ever after, it will be tough without her love and her laughter.

Jo is survived by her sisters Jeane Newman of Nampa, and Rona Ariel of Twin Falls, brother Kyle Thomas (Brenda) Harshbarger also of Twin Falls, son Alan (Dujuana) Poe of Woodbridge, VA, daughter-in-law Mala Poe of Santa Barbara, CA, granddaughters Cherith and Adena of Bellevue, NE and Erica of Woodbridge, VA, and numerous nieces and nephews, especially D’Jean (Vern) and Casey Cornish. She is proceeded in death by her parents, brother Kirk, son Eric Poe and husband Leonard Reed. All are welcome to attend Jo’s celebration of life service held at the Meridian United Methodist Church at 2pm on Friday, February 15, 2019. A meal will follow.

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