Martha Jo Patterson

March 18, 2022

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Martha Jo Kelly Patterson lived 84 years with devotion to serving her God, her family, her community and beloved students in her over 40 year career as a public school teacher.  She departed this life for her life in eternity on Friday, March 18, 2022 from North Miss. Medical Center after a brief illness.  Martha Jo was born on May 7, l937 in Tupelo to the late Neal Kelly and Jodie Westmoreland Kelly. Her father died a week before her birth and she was raised by her mother, a well known seamstress in Tupelo for many years.  Martha Jo graduated from Tupelo High School in l955. She attended Itawamba Junior College where she was an Indianette.  Being strongly indoctrinated in the Presbyterian faith, she attended Belhaven College in Jackson receiving her BA Degree in Education.  She married Jimmy Earl “Jim” Patterson on June 27, 1959. They spent over 10 years in Memphis where she taught in the Memphis Public Schools. Jim graduated from Memphis State University in 1974. They returned to Tupelo where Jim was a CPA and Martha Jo continued her teaching career that spanned over 30 plus years as a special education/learning disabilities teacher in the Tupelo Public Schools. Martha Jo was known for her compassion, encouragementand interest in her students who were her pride and joy.She taught at Milam, Carver and Tupelo High Schools. She was a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators often making visits to the State Capitol to lobby legislators.  Martha Jo waslively, engaged and devoted to all things public education including the Retired Teachers Association.  She was involved in the community as a strong supporter of reading and the Lee County Library volunteering at book sales and other activities of Friends of the Lee County Library. Blessed with a gregarious personality and an insatiable appetite to humanitarian causes, Martha Jo was a joy to be around and never met a stranger. She was a devoted longtime loyal member of the First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo where she was active in all its ministries.  She enjoyed books and reading, crossword puzzles, Wheel of Fortune and was always the life of the party when with her friends and associates. She loved finding a bargain and antiques, collecting Westmoreland glass. She had a booth at several antique malls for years.

A Service to the Witness of the Resurrection will be held at 2 PM Friday, March 25, 2022 at First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo with Rev. Dr. Ron Richardson officiating.  Burial will follow in Andrews Chapel Cemetery south of Mooreville.  Visitation will be from 6-7:30 PM Thursday at Holland Funeral Directors on Cliff Gookin. The family will receive friends from 1 PM-service time in McFadden Hall at First Presbyterian Church.

Martha Jo is survived by her daughter, Dr. Kirsten Patterson Bolton of Saltillo (Jay Mason) and her son, James Neal “Jim” Patterson of Mooreville;  her grandchildren, Ryan Bolton of Saltillo and Jody Patterson of Mooreville.  She was blessed to share a lifetime with her Patterson family and many of them survive.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Neal and Jodie Kelly; her husband, Jimmy Earl “Jim” Patterson who died Dec. 22, 2007 and her son in law, Senior Master Sergeant Danny Bolton who died May 27, 2021; and a sister who died when she was 2 years old from pneumonia in the aftermath of the 1936 Tupelo tornado.

Those serving as Pallbearers will be Ryan Bolton, Jody Patterson, Jay Mason, Steve Holland, Henry Cobb, and Hugh Lamar. Honorary Pallbearers will be Sam Patterson, Ken Patterson, Bill Patterson, and David Alford.

Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, P. O. Box 1725, Tupelo, MS. 38801 or to the Lee County Library, 219 North Madison St., Tupelo, MS. 38801. Condolences may be emailed to


March 24, 2022

6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Holland Funeral Directors (Tupelo)


March 25, 2022

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
McFadden Hall

Funeral Service

March 25, 2022

2:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church (Tupelo)

1 thought on “Martha Jo Patterson”

  1. Dear Patterson family, one of the saddest things someone can experience is the death of a loved one. Did you know the Bible compares death to sleep? (Psalms 13:3) Just as a person who is asleep is unaware of what is happening around him, the dead are not conscious of anything. There is a promise of hope in the Bible. Our loving God has promised to awaken the dead, as if from sleep, and give them life again. Acts 24:15 says, “There is going to be a resurrection.” The bible offers comfort for those who are grieving and I hope this brings you comfort as well.


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