|Jo-Em Leone Purdy
Jo-Em Leone Purdy, 63, of Phoenix, died Aug. 26, 2009,
after a valiant 4-year battle with carcinoma cancer.
She displayed amazing resilience and class throughout her
struggle with difficult health issues, never letting sickness
dampen her positive outlook and indomitable spirit.
Jo-Em was a remarkable woman who taught in the Phoenix
and Paradise Valley school systems for 40 years. Many of
her first grade through high school students called her their
favorite teacher ever.
After retirement, she worked as an interior designer in
Whitefish, Mont., and was active in such philanthropic
endeavors there as the Alpine Theater Project.
She enjoyed her many book clubs and Bible study groups.
Most of all, Jo-Em cared deeply for her family and friends.
Her loving and gracious manner will be greatly missed by
those who were blessed to have known her.
Jo-Em is survived by her husband Jim, children Brad, Jaime,
Jim, Ted and Becky, daughters-in-law Arlene, Amy and
Felicia and grandchildren Sammy, Andie and Logan.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Lt. Col. Leonard
and Evelyn Yuknis, brother Michael and son, Matthew.
A memorial service was held 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26,
2009, at St. Barnabas on the Desert, 6715 N. Mockingbird
Lane, Scottsdale, AZ 85253.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to
the Ted Purdy Foundation, www.tedpurdyfoundation.org,
which will benefit the kids and families served by A Stepping
Stone Foundation, www.asteppingstone.org.
God bless our incredible angel.
Jo-Em Purdy: loving
mom, fantastic friend
Jo-Em Leone Yuknis was born to proud parents Evelyn and
Leonard on May 16th, 1946 in Chicago, Ill. Her father, a
decorated U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, was a dedicated
commander who faithfully led both troops and family around
the world. Her mother Evelyn (or, as her friends called her,
Evey) was a talented artist and gorgeous housewife.
Jo grew up traveling the world with the family to her father's
many outposts. Early on, the family lived in Prescott, Ariz.,
where her younger brother, Michael, was born. The family then
relocated to Europe.
At the U.S. Army base in Mannheim, Germany, Jo discovered
many things, including a love for horses. She went to high
school on the base and regularly enjoyed the rich cultural
experiences offered to her.
Always a proper lady, Jo attended several charm schools and
enjoyed school dances. When her family moved back to the
States after her graduation, Jo enrolled at Arizona State
University. She joined Chi Omega sorority and Angel Flight, an
honorary auxiliary for the Air Force ROTC. Jo-Em graduated
with a degree in elementary education and went on to earn her
master’s in the same field.
Jo-Em wed Bill Perkins on Dec. 15, 1967. They were married
for 20 years and had three children: Brad, Matthew (sadly
deceased at 4 months old) and Jaime.
Jo taught school in the Phoenix and Paradise Valley school
systems for 40 years, ranging from first grade to high school.
Her students adored her with many declaring her to be their
favorite teacher of all time.
On Jan. 5, 1991, Jo-Em re-married James C. Purdy, lovingly
referred to as Poppa Purds. Her children grew to include Jamie
(aka, Big Jamie), Ted and Becky. Later on in her career, she
was promoted to do teacher peer evaluations ("Career
Ladder") for the State of Arizona.
In 1999, the happy couple moved to Whitefish, Mont., where
they spent 7 years building homes and making even more
wonderful friends. There Jo found fantastic ways to get
involved, working closely with the Alpine Theater Project,
spending time on interior design, as well as being an active
member in numerous book clubs and Bible study groups.
In 2006, Jo-Em was diagnosed with carcinoma, a relatively rare
form of cancer. She bravely scoured the country for a cure and
endured many arduous treatments, always persevering with a
classiness and strength rarely seen.
To be closer to family, Jim and Jo moved back home to Phoenix
in 2007. Despite her illness, Jo-Em found the energy to again
join in festivities, clubs and philanthropies.
To her final day, Jo continued to amaze us all with her
selflessness and her amazingly enduring spirit. She had many
incredible friends because she was just that: a wonderful friend
to us all.