Jo Anne (Cenardo) Widdis was born 1934 in Revere, MO.
She grew up in Ft. Collins, Colorado. She enjoyed being a part of the drama clubs and graduated Ft. Collins High School in 1953.
Jo attended Nursing School at Northwestern University 1955, working for 8 years after graduation at Duke University Hospital. She then moved to San Francisco where she entered the US Air Force (USAF) Reserves as a Flight Nurse.
She met the love of her life, James “Jim” Widdis, a Captain in the USAF. They married Nov 16, 1963.
In the following years of marriage Jo followed Jim through his pilot training assignments and celebrated the births of her two sons, Douglas (1965) and Daniel (1967). Shortly after their 5th wedding anniversary Jim was sent to Vietnam and was shot down, declared MIA 23 Mar 69.
Jo moved to Colorado Springs in 1970, raising her boys on her own. She was a devoted mother and wife who never gave up hope for Jim’s return, active in The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in South East Asia, until his remains were recovered in 1995 and laid to rest.
She loved being a registered nurse, certified (R.N.C.), beginning a second career at the Colorado College Student Center where she retired after 20 years in 2001.
Jo received her B.S. degree in Health Arts in 1983. She traveled with a Christian medical team to rural Romania several times between 1992-1997.
She had many experiences she said, “blessed me abundantly.” She cruised to Europe in 1957 and the Middle East in 1979, as well as visited Alaska, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico and Hawaii.
Jo was always active with her family, friends, co-workers, and church community. She attended Village Seven Presbyterian and several Bible study groups faithfully. She has said, “Christian faith has carried me through many vicissitudes of life, and to have learned the true meaning of endurance.”
In her spare time, she liked to write prose and poetry. Jo was a loyal Denver Broncos fan and could be found cheering them on waving the blue and orange. Her love of dogs began at an early age and she had many beloved companions throughout her lifetime. Jo always made time to think of others, whether it was by sharing an article in the newspaper, writing uplifting poems, giving gifts or through her prayers. She always made it a priority to be at her grandchildren’s milestones. In her final days she was often heard proudly speaking of her accomplishments being an R.N.C. and raising her two successful sons on her own. Her 5 grandchildren gave her great joy when highlighting their activities and achievements.
Knowing Jo, you would always know her husband Jim, she instilled his sacrificial love of life and country into her family. Jo remained devoted and in love with him. Her children and grandchildren knew him and their love for each other. She made sure she let them know he would be proud of them. 50 years they have waited to be together again.
Jo died peacefully in her sleep living her last days in the Pacific Northwest.
Jo is survived by her sons, Douglas (April) Widdis and Daniel (Jacqueline) Widdis; her five grandchildren: Megan (Widdis) Fortner, Mallory Widdis, Simeon Widdis, Anneliese Widdis, and Arabella Widdis. She is preceded in death by her husband and love of her life, James “Jim” Widdis; beloved grandmother, Zilla “May” (Rose) Townsend; and parents, Enos “Doc” and Corrine “Tomi” (Townsend) Cenardo.
A funeral will be held at 10 am on March 6, 2019 at Shrine of Remembrance, 1730 E. Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO. A reception will be held following the funeral service at Olympian Plaza Reception and Event Center, 975 South Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO. Burial will be at the USAF Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.
Memorials in Jo Anne Widdis’ name may be made to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at BestFriends.org and/or to Mission to the World at mtw.org/projects (ministry type: medical and community health).