Berry Highland West

9913 Sherrill Blvd, Knoxville, TN


Mary Jo Burnell

October 9, 1958May 22, 2019

With heavy hearts, the Burnell family announces the sudden passing of Mary Jo Burnell on May 22, 2019 at the age of 60. Mary Jo was born October 9, 1958 in Pittsville, Massachusetts. Mary Jo graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1984 with a Master’s degree in English Literature. That same year, she moved to Huntsville, Alabama which would be her home for thirty-five years. Mary Jo worked for the U.S. Army from 1984 to her early retirement in May 2015. She worked as the lead technical writer for numerous noncommissioned officer professional development programs on subjects such as Precision Fires Missile Systems and Aviation Systems and retired as Lead Technical Writer for LOGSA (Logistic Support Activity). Mary Jo lived a life full of dear friends who remember her as extremely kind, loyal, and generous despite any differing political and religious views or differing SEC teams! She loved to travel in order to follow her interests which included ice skating, Broadway plays, and television and film. Mary Jo also traveled the United States and countries abroad with friends and as a solo adventurer. May Jo was an avid reader as well as fiction writer. She wrote many short stories specifically for loved ones and family members. These writings were windows to her whimsical and fantastic spirit as well as her sunny optimism. Mary Jo was preceded in death by her father, Richard, her mother, Jean, her brother, Rick, and her pets, Sparky and Pete. Mary Jo is survived by her brother, Dennis, her sister-in-law, Mary, her sister, Stephanie, her nephews Justin, Aaron (with wife Ashley), Logan (with wife Jennifer and children Temperance and Seth) and innumerable friends across the world. Mary Jo’s family will receive friends in Knoxville, TN on Saturday June 15, 2019 at 10:00 AM with interment following at 11:00 AM (Berry Highland West Funeral Home – 9913 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN, 37932). Additionally, a celebration of life is being held in Mary Jo’s honor in Huntsville, AL on June 22, 2019 at 2:00 PM (Blue Plate Café – South Parkway, 7540 Memorial Parkway SW, Suite E, Huntsville, AL, 35802). “Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” W. B. Yeats, Irish Poet. Online condolences may be offered at www.BerryHighlandWest.com.


  • Visitation Saturday, June 15, 2019
  • Interment Saturday, June 15, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Saturday, June 22, 2019


Mary Jo Burnell

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Lisa Pipes

June 21, 2019

I love this description of Mary Jo, and the quote at the end is perfect for this little Sprite! Mary Jo quietly touched a lot of lives and we will miss her - we already do. My prayers are with all of the family members and friends.