Mary Jo was born to De and Luella Ford on December 10, 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She spent her early years growing up in Clover, South Carolina with her older sister Julia (who passed away in 2013). Her mother was an elementary school teacher. Her father at 6’ 4” and 250 pounds, and known as “Tiny”, was a football player, went to Binghamton Military School, and was a rural police officer in York County, SC. At times, confiscated stills and illegal gambling machines from his raids were in “police custody” in the family’s living room! She was taught to cook and fish by her father after her mother passed away suddenly in 1947 when Mary Jo was only 13. She worked at her Aunt’s dime store and at the local drug store during High School. Upon graduation, she attended Winthrop College and earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1957. She was known as Mary “Joke” Ford by her friends. When not studying, she enjoyed dancing “the Shag” and carousing with her college friend and roommate Eva Garvin; together they were known as the Gold Dust Twins. She began her teaching career in Brunswick, Georgia and lived on St. Simon’s Island. While there, she enjoyed exploring the beaches, and being with the friends she made amongst the other teachers. Her next teaching position was in Indian Head, Maryland where she met the man who would become her husband… on a second blind date, after he stood her up on the first. Daniel G. Schindler was a petty officer and electronics technician at the time, stationed at the Indian Head Naval Base. They were married in June, 1959 at the chapel of her family’s funeral home in Clover. After honeymooning in Georgia, they traveled to Dan’s new job as a computer engineer with IBM in Salt Lake City. Over the next decade, they journeyed around the country following Dan’s work assignments; living in upstate New York, Minnesota, Utah, Washington, and California. Their only child, Daniel De Schindler, was born in San Jose, CA on September 12, 1971. They finally settled in Billings in 1976. Later, they moved outside the city, and built their own home on a five acre plot of land near the small town of Shepherd. Mary Jo split her time between taking care of their young son and tending the family farm… which included over an acre of garden, chickens, ducks, cows, and managing the household. She maintained her connection with education throughout her life, serving on the Pioneer School Board and being honored as a lifetime member of the Montana PTA. She loved animals, as can be attested to by the many pets lucky enough to call her house “home”— from her dog Buddy, who rode around with her in the basket of her bicycle when she was a girl, to her devoted Britney Spaniel named Maggie. Mary Jo had lifelong friends across the country and her warmth, humor, and bubbling personality have made her a person who you want in your life. She was know by many, beloved by many, and will be missed by many as well.
A graveside service will be 2:00 pm on Wednesday April 18, 2018 at Yellowstone National Cemetery, Laurel, MT.