Jo Ann (Adams) Massie Seiple was born in Marshall, Texas on May 23, 1942. She passed away on April 27, 2021, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The cause of death was complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Jo Ann was the second daughter born to Charles Joseph Adams and Virginia Adams Daniel. She was a graduate of Marshall High School (class of 1960). She was preceded in death by her husband, David Gerald (Jerry) Seiple, in 2014.
She attended what was then East Texas State College, graduating with a B.A. in Journalism. After graduation, she returned to Marshall High and taught English to the class of 1966. She then married Wayne Massie of Dallas Texas, and they moved to California shortly after. They were married for several years before divorcing, but she chose to stay in California and taught English and Creative Writing to students at Chula Vista High School. There, she was voted Teacher of the Year in 1971, 72, 73, and 74.
In 1975, Jo Ann decided to return to East Texas State University, where she received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Education. It was there she met a fellow graduate student and her soulmate, Jerry Seiple. Jerry was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, and they married and started their long and wonderful lives together.
She and Jerry taught classes at Indiana University, Richmond, for a year. In 1979 Jo Ann was hired as an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In her time at UNCW, she served as Chair of the English Department, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and in 1996 became the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. During her tenure as Dean, ending in 2004, she established five new departments, including Creative Writing, Film Studies, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, and Social Work. She developed the Departments of Music and Art and Theater following the division of the Department of Fine Arts. In addition, she created a community outreach program, a magazine, recruited nine new department chairs, and increased the involvement of women and minorities. Jo Ann was known as a fair and supportive Dean who served as a mentor to many young faculty members and was widely respected for her hard work and inclusive demeanor.
Jo Ann received many honors during her career, including an MLE Fellow from Harvard University in 1998; was an invited participant at the ACE National Forum for Women Leaders in Higher Education, Washington, DC in 1998; and a nominee for the YWCA Women of Achievement in Education in 2004.
After her retirement as Dean, she briefly returned to the classroom, but soon fully retired and spent many years traveling the world with Jerry. She also made frequent trips back to California and Texas to visit with her family. She and Jerry had a wide network of friends in Wilmington and shared their love of fun, dogs, and, of course, Texas barbecue!
Jo Ann was also well-known for her sense of humor, her history of comedic performances, hosting epic parties, and annual Christmas cookie bake for her friends and neighbors. She was a good and decent human being, acting as a mentor to countless folks in her life. She had a positive impact on so many faculty and students throughout her career, and had the honor of living a fruitful and meaningful life. She will be deeply missed.
Jo Ann is survived by her sister Charlotte Lawrence (Charles) of Hallsville, Texas; sister Marcia Adams (Bob Wilkinson) of Las Cruces, New Mexico; nephew Tommy Lawrence (Rita) of Hallsville, Texas; niece Tracy Cox (Jeff) of San Augustine; niece Jennifer Gross of San Diego, California; and great niece Katie Cox of Nacogdoches, Texas.
Special thanks to caregivers Tammy Reilly of Wilmington, North Carolina; Mojgan Karimi-Moghaddam of Las Cruces, New Mexico; and to the fabulous staff of The Heritage Assisted Living in Las Cruces.
No services are planned. Donations may be made to the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences in her memory, or to a charity of your choice.