October 29, 1937 - May 12, 2019
Neva Jo (Absher) Stewart passed away on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019 in Visalia, CA. She had a long struggle with lung disease and a recent diagnosis of Thrombocytopenia. She is preceded in death by her husband Mel, parents Neville and Geneva (Absher), twin-sister Nita Jean, long-time companion Pat Starnes, and daughter Torri. She is survived by her daughter Kim, husband Tim Parcel, grandchildren Kristi Herrera, Brian Parcel, Garret Miller and Kayli Miller. She is also survived by six great grandchildren, Dylan Bourque, Brayden Bourque, Ashlyn Isenberg, Landon Parcel, Isabella Parcel and Olivia Miller.
Jo was born October 29, 1937 in Comanche, Oklahoma. None months later, the Absher family relocated to San Jose, and eventually Taft, CA where Neville found work with Midway Fishing Tool. They lived in the iconic Midway Fishing Tool residence on the corner of Supply Row and Second St.
Jo attended Taft schools where she met Melvin Stewart. They married in February of 1954, and raised three daughters, Kimberlin, Torri and Melinda. In 1971, she began working with Dr. Ray Zak, DDS. She was later asked to join Taft High School to help develop and teach the dental assistant Regional Occupation Program. She retired in 1978 to spend time with her grandchildren.
Mel and Jo’s passions included trips to Lake San Antonio, where they enjoyed their 25-foot Prowler Trailer and Tahiti Jet Boat. Many 70’s Taft teenagers learned to waterski thanks to Mel and Jo’s generosity. Oceano and Pismo Beach were also favorite camp spots. Jo liked to entertain. She kept the trailer meticulously cleaned and organized while serving the best meals at any campsite. Of course, many of those meals were served to Taft friends who visited frequently.
In 1986 Mel retired from Continental Emsco, and they moved to Nipomo. Jo enjoyed some country living as they raised horses on their ranch. When Mel passed in 1992, Jo returned to Bakersfield to be near her sister. Eventually, she split her time between Bakersfield and Nipomo, enjoying the company of central coast companion Pat. He was an expert green thumb, keeping a perfectly manicured garden with numerous seasonal vegetables, which Jo enjoyed canning and preserving. She was an avid reader and enjoyed everything from crime documentaries to romance novels. Her wit and dark humor always made for many laughs around the dinner table.
Private services will be held at West Side Cemetery.