July 14, 1956 ~ July 23, 2021
Mary Jo Halverson, 65, of Scotland, SD ran through the gates of Heaven on July 23, 2021 while at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, SD.
A Memorial Celebration of Mary Jo’s life will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, August 7, 2021, at Scotland Community Church in Scotland, SD. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am. Please join us for a meal with sharing of memories and fellowship immediately following the memorial service.
Mary Jo Hoopes was born on July 14, 1956, to Gordon & Lorraine (Sathe) Hoopes in Yankton, SD. She was the youngest of four girls. Mary Jo and her three sisters were raised by Lorraine Hoopes and step-mother Joyce ‘Jo’ (Heick) Hoopes along with their father Gordon.
Although Mary Jo was born after the polio vaccine was developed, she was too young to receive it and ultimately became infected around the age of one – her three sisters were all old enough to receive the vaccine and were not affected. Soon after being diagnosed with polio, Mary Jo experienced breathing difficulties and was put into an iron lung for 6 months. While she does not have memories of this time, Mary Jo spoke of her mother saying the experience left her feeling heartbroken, unable to hold her baby girl. Polio affects the nervous system and, among other things, left Mary Jo without the use of her left leg. She needed numerous surgeries throughout her childhood and into her youth. Ultimately, her left leg grew to be three inches shorter than her right leg and surgeons fused her shorter leg at the knee to help her maintain some mobility.
At the age of 5, Mary Jo shared the stage at a March of Dimes fundraiser with Yankton’s mayor. The newspaper caption referred to her as, “Yankton County’s Polio Girl” – reflecting on the event, she said she felt like a movie star. Later in life, Mary Jo would achieve notoriety once again as Ms. Wheelchair South Dakota. Mary Jo attended Yankton High School where she graduated in 1974. She proudly attended the University of South Dakota-Springfield, studying accounting, until it closed in 1975.
The family was the center of Mary Jo’s life. She was a strong, loving mother to five sons. Mary Jo would work numerous jobs throughout her life to provide for her wild bunch as a single mother of five. Looking back, she would often remark, “we didn’t have a lot, but what we did have, we shared”. Later in life, Mary Jo welcomed, with loving arms, two step-daughters and one step-son with Jeff Comstock.
Mary Jo enjoyed her job as a bookkeeper for The Treasure Chest. She also enjoyed spending time in the sun, cruising on her Hoveround wheelchair with grandkids, Bible study, attending anything the kids or grandkids were doing, crossword puzzles, holiday gatherings, camping, Jeopardy!, swimming, praising God, and loving every single person around her – she always made sure you knew how much she loved you.
Mary Jo is survived by the love of her life, Jeff Comstock (Scotland, SD); children, Elvis McKee, Chamberlain, SD, Steve (Heather) Henry, Scotland, SD, Doug (Robin) Henry, Tea, SD, Jill (Josh) Goehring Delmont, SD, Casey (Amanda) Comstock, Bennington, NE, Sean (Jamie) Halverson, Council Bluffs, IA, Sam Halverson, Sioux Falls, SD, Danielle (Jed) Ogren, Marshall, MN; 24 grandchildren; 1 great grandchild (due August 2021); sisters, Linda (Curt) Adrian, Parker, SD, Cindy Voichoskie, Norfolk, NE, and Terry (Mark) Daggett, Tea, SD; 4 uncles; 2 aunts; 10 cousins; 3 nephews; 5 nieces; and countless friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Gordon and Lorraine Hoopes, and stepmother, Joyce Hoopes.