LEXINGTON — Willie Jo Peppers McGuire was born on January 3, 1932 to Marshall and Carrie Peppers in St. Joseph, TN. Named after her grandfather, Willie Jack Peppers, she made sure that she was always called “Jo” to those she came to know. Once she became a grandmother, she lovingly became known to all as “Mama Jo.”
Jo had parents who were baseball fans, so after much prodding from her parents, she agreed to let them introduce her to a local baseball hero by the name of Bobby McGuire. It wasn’t long before they became a couple. Following high school graduation from Loretto High School in May, she moved to Nashville to work at the downtown clothing store, Harvey’s. It didn’t take her long to realize that she wanted to be near her sweetheart, so she moved back home. Shortly after moving home, at the age of 18, she married her 19-year-old love. They started out with a life full of dreams when he left his job at Reynolds Aluminum to join the Navy.
After living in Oklahoma for basic training, they eventually ended up in Kingsville, TX where they would be stationed for several years. It was during that time that she was offered a job working for the Matriarch of the King Ranch, as her personal assistant. Bobby, meanwhile, had become a standout baseball player for the Navy, with opportunities of playing professional baseball. However, he had his sights on moving back to Alabama to start a family. When the King family found out that he was leaving the Navy, they offered Bobby a job so that Jo could stay on in her job as personal assistant! There was not a chance he was staying in Texas, so they moved back to Alabama to start their life. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last for 67 years. Once they were back in Alabama, Bobby went back to Reynolds Aluminum and Jo worked part-time jobs. After five years of marriage, their first son was born, then came a daughter, and another son. As the children were growing up, Jo took a job with the Lauderdale County Board of Education as the GED coordinator. After several years in that position, she was hired by Dr. E.B. Norton to become the Work Study Program coordinator in Financial Aid for Florence State University. She retired from what became the University of North Alabama with 27 years of service.
While Jo and Bobby had discussed a life of travel after their retirement from their respective jobs, Bobby had another vision of travel. He signed them up for training as State-Certified EMT’s. As a lifelong volunteers, it was just the beginning of 15 years of travel in the back of an ambulance doing volunteer work for the Lexington Fire and Rescue Squad. They were known throughout the ER’s in the area for their dedication to serving as volunteer EMT’s.
Once Jo finally retired again, she and Bobby enjoyed travel, auctions, and listening to local musicians. The two of them were a team, so everything Bobby volunteered for in the City of Lexington, Jo was right there with him. From working at the famous Lexington Tractor Pull, to being active in the Lexington United Methodist Church, they stayed busy. Entertaining their seven grandchildren was one of their favorite things to do.
Jo’s life eventually slowed down when Bobby’s health started diminishing. She was always by his side until his passing in 2017. She said the biggest part of her heart left when he died—because they were “one.” Although her cancer diagnosis came right before the death of Bobby, she continued living life with hope and optimism. With encouragement from her family, she was able to start enjoying travel again and spending more time with her grandchildren. She was able to travel to South America, Costa Rica, and various places within the U.S., before she became homebound in 2020 as the pandemic set in. After battling Covid at the beginning of 2021, she was no longer able to withstand her treatments, so hospice became a part of her life.
Throughout her time with hospice, she remained hopeful and positive. She continued to appreciate and encourage those who were around her, and she never gave up. Her last breath was taken with her family around her. She was a life-long member of the Lexington United Methodist Church.
The family would like to thank all of her special local caregivers, who are too many to name, but Kindred Hospice was invaluable.
She is survived by her three children, Mike (Treesa) McGuire of Decatur, Susan McGuire Adams of Florence, and Brian Keith McGuire of Lexington. She had seven grandchildren, Christopher McGuire of Colombia, SA, Daniel McGuire of Nashville, TN, Rachel McGuire Fuller (Austin) of Nashville, TN, Jon Thomas Adams of Dallas, TX, Mitchell Adams of Tuscumbia, and Dillon Burton of Virginia, United States Navy and JoAnna Allen (Dylan) of Clifton, TN.
She is also survived by her 99 year-old sister, Allene Belew; her sisters-in law, Elizabeth Newton of Lexington, and Marjorie Martin of Cantonment, FL, her nephews, Jack Belew (Pam), and Robert Newton (Tonya) of Muscle Shoals, AL, Gary Newton (Lori) of Lexington, AL and Wade Newton of Lexington, and Francis Martin of Cantonment, FL.
She is also survived by a number of great-nieces and nephews who were a big part of her life and her long-time buddy, Lily, her wire-haired terrier who was always by her side.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bobby McGuire; brother-in-law, Sam Newton; brother-in-law, Francis Martin; brother-in-law, Jack Belew, Sr., and nephew, Jeff Martin.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Lexington United Methodist Church or the American Cancer Society. The funeral service for Mrs. McGuire will be held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at Lexington United Methodist Church with Sam Hayes, Joey Karr, Danny Pettus, and Michael Burgess officiating. She will lie in state at the church from 12:00-1:00 P.M. Burial will follow in Pettus Cemetery. The visitation was on Tuesday, May 04, 2021 at Lexington United Methodist Church from 5:00-7:00 P.M. Loretto Memorial Chapel will be assisting the family.