Jo Ellen Fraley gave birth to two children in her lifetime, but her “kids” numbered in dozens, if not hundreds. Through her life as a mom, as a Memaw, as a band mom, as a scout mom, and as an adopted mom, Jo Ellen touched many, many lives with her fierce love, to say nothing of her 34 years working with students at Happy Hearts and Vern Riffe School. Jo Ellen cared for anyone she could. If you meant something to someone she already loved, you were as good as family to her.
Jo Ellen died suddenly on April 15, 2021. Born May 12, 1952, Jo Ellen was the daughter of Joe and Mary Ann McKelvey, both of whom preceded her in death. Her husband of 28 years, Elmon Fraley, survives her, as do her children, Allison (Mark) Shimko and Stephen (Anna) Ellsesser. James Wiles, for whom Jo Ellen served as a guardian after her retirement, became another of Jo Ellen’s children, and she loved James as one of her own.
Perhaps no one knew Jo Ellen’s love quite as well as her grandkids: Lana, Rhett and Bradley Ellsesser. Jo Ellen spent a solid portion of her adult life preparing to become a Memaw. She excelled at spoiling her grandbabies, making sure they had fun toys at Christmas and new shoes when inspiration struck her as she drove by the shoe store. Her grandkids joined grand-pup Dory on the photo shelves in Jo Ellen’s living room.
Jo Ellen graduated from Glenwood High School and studied at Mount Vernon Nazarene and at Ohio University. She spent half of her life working at VRS, where she loyally served people with disabilities. Faith was an important part of her youth, and in recent years, Jo Ellen was very pleased to have reaffirmed Jesus as her savior.
Jo Ellen’s brother Joe (Kathy) McKelvey and her sisters — Mary Carol Plymale, Dona Starrett, and Nancy (Barry) Sexton — also survive her. Numerous beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, as well as several close friends she thought of as “family of the heart,” mourn her death.
Jo Ellen enjoyed working puzzles, reading books, and supporting the Ohio State Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns. For many years, she served as a booster for the East Band, where she first met many of the kids to whom she was another mom.
Many will miss Jo Ellen, and few will forget her.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday April 19, 2021 at D.W. SWICK FUNERAL HOME in New Boston with interment to follow at South Webster Cemetery. Friends may call from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home and one hour prior to the services on Monday. Online condolences may be left at www.DWSwickFuneralHome.com.