Mary Jo McCormick Anderson, a mother of eight and community volunteer who pursued a master’s degree in her 50s and became a professional counselor, died Wednesday in her South Toledo home. She was 86.
She learned that she had cancer in August, daughter Christy Jacob said.
She taught at Grove Patterson School before marrying Robert Anderson, of the family grain-handling firm, The Andersons. She made home and family her focus.
“She came from a prominent family and married into a prominent family, and she was without airs,” her daughter said. “Her biggest value was relationships. She loved his family, not because they were the Andersons, because of the people they were.”
Mrs. Anderson received a master of counseling degree in 1987 from the University of Toledo.
“She graduated the same year as I graduated from high school. We would sit down and study together,” her daughter said.
Afterward, Mrs. Anderson counseled people with chemical dependencies for several years at the Tennyson Center, which by chance occupied her childhood home on Parkwood Avenue.
“She brought a genuine desire to see people find the good within themselves, to grow past and through their pain and to realize their full potential,” her daughter said.
She was a skilled listener before it was a professional attribute.
“You could talk to her, and she may not agree with you, but you never felt an ounce of judgment,” her son Rick said. “That’s so healing, and she did that with everybody.”
In addition, Mrs. Anderson taught for several years at what was then Lourdes College in Sylvania.
She volunteered at her children’s schools. A former board member of the YMCA of Greater Toledo, she’d been designated a “trustee for life.” She also helped at the Servant Leadership Center.
“That was a big part of her faith,” her daughter said. “The way you’re called to live your life is to serve others and give of your time and talent.”
She was born March 13, 1931, to Josephine and Dr. Edward McCormick, the fifth of what would be six children. Her father was a respected local surgeon and, in 1953-54, president of the American Medical Association. She was a graduate of St. Ursula Academy and received a bachelor of education degree from the University of Michigan.
She and her husband married Aug. 7, 1954. He died Jan. 27, 2002. Their sons Rick and Gerry, while University of Notre Dame students, brought home two friends for Christmas, 1977, who otherwise would have had to stay on campus. Andy Greco and César Garcia have been at family Christmases since.
Surviving are her sons, Bob, Rick, Gerry, and Kevin Anderson; daughters, Ruth Miller, Judy Ludwig, Joan Rataczak, and Christy Jacob; 41 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday at Coyle Funeral Home, with a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joan of Arc Church, where she was a member.
The family suggests tributes to St. Ursula Academy; Toledo GROWS at Toledo Botanical Garden; the scholarship fund at St. John’s Jesuit High School named for her late brother, the Rev. Richard McCormick, who was a nationally known bioethicist, or the scholarship fund at St. John’s named for her father, Dr. Edward J. McCormick.
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