Jo Nelson Booze

Jo Nelson Booze (Baltimore Sun / June 24, 2011)

Jo N. Booze, a retired private school educator who later worked for Episcopal Social Ministries, died June 13 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The Broadmead retirement community resident was 79.

The daughter of a surgeon and a homemaker, Jo Nelson was born in Baltimore and spent her early years in Arbutus before moving with her family to a home on Fairway Drive in Towson.

She was a 1950 graduate of Bryn Mawr School and earned a bachelor's degree in 1954 from Sweet Briar College. A year later, she earned a master's in education from Goucher College.

Mrs. Booze began her career as an educator in 1955, when she joined the faculty of Bryn Mawr School, where she taught for two years.

She took some time off to raise her family and returned in 1965 to teaching when she joined the faculty of St. Paul's School for Girls, where she taught seventh-grade English and religious studies for fifth-graders.

In addition, she was the school's scheduling officer.

"She was an absolute master when it came to dealing with seventh-graders — not the easiest of ages — and she loved them all," said the former head of school, Mary Frances Wagley, who retired in 1978.

"She was an incredible teacher for her time. She took the kids on a camping trip to Western Maryland one weekend, but the deal was they had to make all of the arrangements," she said.

Mrs. Wagley said another classroom exercise was having her students write and design newspaper advertisements.

"She'd do anything to keep them interested in the world around them," she said. "She had been quite an athlete in her youth, so she was a team player. She was competitive yet competent, and had a bundle of assets."

As scheduling officer, it was Mrs. Booze's responsibility to keep track of everyone from students to faculty to administrators.

"It was a big job and a perfect job for Jo, who wanted to know what everyone was doing and where they were," Mrs. Wagley said with a laugh. "I understand she had a similar job at Broadmead, so she kept those characteristics all the way to the end."

Mrs. Booze retired from St. Paul's in 1978, and in 1980 she joined Episcopal Social Ministries, where she was bookkeeper, searched for birth parents from past adoptions and helped homeless men receive job training.

"Jo was irrepressible and one of the most delightful human beings I've ever met in my life. She had firm opinions, and she'd say what she wanted to say. She also had a glorious sense of humor and had a gift for friendship," said Sally Robinson, former executive director of Episcopal Social Ministries.

"However, she kept me on a tight rein as budget director. She was a penny-pincher and felt I was profligate. She was a very good steward when it came to money," said Mrs. Robinson.

She said that Mrs. Booze would spend hours hunting down where two cents had gone awry.

"She kept a firm eye on our money and budget," she said.

Mrs. Booze, who moved to Broadmead four years ago, was a former officer of the Junior League of Baltimore and had served on the alumni board at Bryn Mawr School.

She had also been a member of Action for the Homeless and the Hamilton Street Club.

Mrs. Booze was an avid golfer and birdwatcher. She also enjoyed gardening, woodworking and repairing lamps.

Her marriage to Joseph Logan Booze ended in divorce.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at Broadmead, 13801 York Road, Cockeysville.

Surviving are a son, James Logan Booze of Annapolis; a daughter, Jody Nelson Booze-Daniels of Blacksburg, Va.; a sister, Betty Daniel of New Denver, British Columbia; and four grandsons.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com