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Edwards Funeral Home

201 North 12th Street, Fort Smith, AR

OBITUARY

Dr. Jo Harper

June 21, 1935March 18, 2020

Dr. Jo Neighbors Harper, 84, passed away on March 18, 2020 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She was born June 21, 1935 in Gravelly, Arkansas to Robert Preston and Beatrice May Neighbors. Jo Harper is survived by her son, Dr. Mitchell R. Harper and wife Robin of Fort Smith; her daughter, Kimberly Jo White and her husband Brad of Harlingen, Texas; grandchildren, William B. Reynolds, Sarah Jo Reynolds, John Harper Reynolds, Elizabeth Harper Henderson, Chandler R. Harper, Blake White and Sarah White; nephews and nieces, Ross Griggs, Debbie Verdon, Patti Steinmetz, Peggy Duncan, and Dana Parker. She was very close to cousins, Dorotha Austin and Douglas Potter. She was preceded in death by her husband, Judge W. R. “Bud” Harper; and grandson, Jeremy Harper.

Jo graduated from Fourche Valley High School, in Yell County, where she was basketball team captain, homecoming queen and valedictorian. She received her Bachelors of Business Education in 1957 from Arkansas Tech University and her Doctor of Education, in 1987, from the University of Arkansas.

She began her career in education in 1959, at Van Buren High School, where she taught for many years. She was Senior Class Sponsor, began the Miss Van Buren Beauty Pageant, introduced the first computers into the curriculum, founded the FBLA chapter, and implemented the Cooperative Office Education Program. Jo blazed new paths for women during her 34 years in education. She was the first female high school principle in Sebastian County at Mansfield High School. She was appointed by governors to several positions including the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission, the Advisory Council on Education for Gifted and Talented Children, and the Workforce Development Commission. Her community service included PEO Chapter J, President of the Community Services Clearinghouse Board, Girls Club Board, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Committee, Community Rescue Board of Directors, Leadership Fort Smith Alumni Board of Directors, Lincoln Childcare Board President, Head Start Board of Directors, Project Compassion Board and Arkansas Tech University Advisory Board.

Dr. Harper was inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction honoring her career success and community service. She was named “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scout Council, and she received Mayor Baker’s “Spirit of the Frontier” award.

Jo was a devoted Christian who was very actively involved and loved her church, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. She served in a multitude of capacities and was Church Council president twice.

Beyond her many career accomplishments, she was more importantly a loving wife and mother.

Due to the Coronavirus situation, a private burial was held on Saturday, and a memorial service will be at a later date. Memorials can be sent to Arkansas Tech University Bud and Jo Harper Scholarship Fund, 1509 Boulder Avenue, #210, Russellville, AR 72801.

Online condolences may be sent to www.edwardsfuneralhome.com

  • FAMILY

  • Judge W. R. “Bud” Harper, Loving husband (deceased)
  • Dr. Mitchell R. Harper and wife Robin, Son
  • Kimberly Jo White and her husband Brad, Daughter
  • Robert Preston and Beatrice May Neighbors, Parents (deceased)
  • Jeremy Harper, Grandchild (deceased)
  • William B. Reynolds, Grandchild
  • Sarah Jo Reynolds, Grandchild
  • John Harper Reynolds, Grandchild
  • Elizabeth Harper Henderson, Grandchild
  • Chandler R. Harper, Grandchild
  • Blake White, Grandchild
  • Sarah White, Grandchild
  • Debbie Verdon, Niece
  • Patti Steinmetz, Niece
  • Peggy Duncan, Niece
  • Dana Parker, Niece
  • Ross Griggs, Nephew
  • Dorotha Austin, Cousin
  • Douglas Potter, Cousin
  • , J
  • DONATIONS

  • Arkansas Tech University Bud and Jo Harper Scholarship Fund

Services

  • Private Family Burial Saturday, March 21, 2020

Memories

Dr. Jo Harper

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ADD A MEMORY
Gene McVay

March 28, 2020

Jo and Bud are together again to continue their journey throughout eternity.

One of my great privileges was to know and deeply appreciate the Harper's. They were dedicated to service to others and will always be remembered.

I pray for peace that exceeds all understanding for their friends and family.

LEMOYNE SMITH

March 26, 2020

Jo was a classmate, dear friend, professional educator in every respect, and great leader whose life influenced the many students and others she came in contact with. She was loved by all and will be sorely missed.

Larry & Laurie Armstrong

March 23, 2020

Harper Family-
We are so sorry for the loss of your Mother. She was a brilliant, classy and an exemplary woman. She was always kind to our family. We know she touched many lives and raised beautiful children. She will be missed in the community. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
We love y’all-
Larry & Laurie Armstrong

Janet Mailer

March 22, 2020

Neighbors for years, I babysat for Mitch and Kim~I’m confident Jo turned from an embrace with Jesus into the arms of her beloved Bud. Dancing in heaven together again. Lifetime friendships are such a blessing. My best to the family. Prayers for HIS calming grace.

Neva Lou Ewing O’Brien

March 22, 2020

My sincere condolences to the family. Jo was my friend for 66 years from ATU where I met her and Bud. Mary Helen and I enjoyed our yearly reunions with her. She was a special lady of great faith and love for education and family who will be missed.

Colleen and Tollie Adkins

March 22, 2020

Jo Harper was a beautiful lady inside and out. The times we were around her at MOAA and other places, she always expressed feelings of warmth like she was your friend forever.

Dana Moseley

March 22, 2020

Jo was a memorable person who I got to know through ATU. As an educator, I appreciated how much she did for public education in Arkansas. Her family was so important to her as well as her endeavors. I extend my deepest sympathy to her family. God Bless Dana Moseley

SISTER JUDITH Keith, RSM

March 21, 2020

Mitch and family, I offer my sincere condolence at the loss of your mother.
I was privileged to serve with her on a community board for six years. I saw very quickly her commitment to service to the frail elderly. I also observed her faith in God that drove her to share that love to others.
Jo was so proud of both of you and those wonderful grandchildren!
I know she missed and longed to be with Bud! They must be dancing in heaven!
Jo left us a legacy with her life. When I think of her, I smile!
You are all in my thoughts.
Sister Judith Marie Keith

DAVID VANDERGRIFF

March 21, 2020

Van Buren in the 60s and 70s was blessed with an outstanding education system. Jo Harper was a huge reason for that. She set an exemplary precedent for all of us who were students in Van Buren at that time. We are all better persons for having known her. My most sincere condolences to the family.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Dr. Jo Neighbors Harper, 84, passed away on March 18, 2020 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She was born June 21, 1935 in Gravelly, Arkansas to Robert Preston and Beatrice May Neighbors. Jo Harper is survived by her son, Dr. Mitchell R. Harper and wife Robin of Fort Smith; her daughter, Kimberly Jo White and her husband Brad of Harlingen, Texas; grandchildren, William B. Reynolds, Sarah Jo Reynolds, John Harper Reynolds, Elizabeth Harper Henderson, Chandler R. Harper, Blake White and Sarah White; nephews and nieces, Ross Griggs, Debbie Verdon, Patti Steinmetz, Peggy Duncan, and Dana Parker. She was very close to cousins, Dorotha Austin and Douglas Potter. She was preceded in death by her husband, Judge W. R. “Bud” Harper; and grandson, Jeremy Harper.

Jo graduated from Fourche Valley High School, in Yell County, where she was basketball team captain, homecoming queen and valedictorian. She received her Bachelors of Business Education in 1957 from Arkansas Tech University and her Doctor of Education, in 1987, from the University of Arkansas.

She began her career in education in 1959, at Van Buren High School, where she taught for many years. She was Senior Class Sponsor, began the Miss Van Buren Beauty Pageant, introduced the first computers into the curriculum, founded the FBLA chapter, and implemented the Cooperative Office Education Program. Jo blazed new paths for women during her 34 years in education. She was the first female high school principle in Sebastian County at Mansfield High School. She was appointed by governors to several positions including the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission, the Advisory Council on Education for Gifted and Talented Children, and the Workforce Development Commission. Her community service included PEO Chapter J, President of the Community Services Clearinghouse Board, Girls Club Board, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Committee, Community Rescue Board of Directors, Leadership Fort Smith Alumni Board of Directors, Lincoln Childcare Board President, Head Start Board of Directors, Project Compassion Board and Arkansas Tech University Advisory Board.

Dr. Harper was inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction honoring her career success and community service. She was named “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scout Council, and she received Mayor Baker’s “Spirit of the Frontier” award.

Jo was a devoted Christian who was very actively involved and loved her church, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. She served in a multitude of capacities and was Church Council president twice.

Beyond her many career accomplishments, she was more importantly a loving wife and mother.

Due to the Coronavirus situation, a private burial was held on Saturday, and a memorial service will be at a later date. Memorials can be sent to Arkansas Tech University Bud and Jo Harper Scholarship Fund, 1509 Boulder Avenue, #210, Russellville, AR 72801.

Online condolences may be sent to www.edwardsfuneralhome.com