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Arlo Guthrie pens loving tribute to his late aunt Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon

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Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives
Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives

Famed folk singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie, the son of Oklahoma music icon Woody Guthrie, has posted on Facebook a loving tribute to his aunt, Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, who was laid to rest today. 

As previously reported, Edgmon, Woody Guthrie’s younger sister and one his most dedicated cheerleaders and champions, died Saturday at the Regency Skilled Nursing Facility in Shawnee. She was 96.

Arlo Guthrie wrote on Facebook that he was on the road in Poway, California, when he checked his cell phone Sunday morning and saw a message the previous night from his cousin Hugh Edgmon, Mary Jo's son, about his aunt's passing. 

"She was in her late 90s, so while not unexpected, it's still sobering," Arlo Guthrie wrote. "She was the last one standing from that entire generation, at least in our immediate family - The ones who had firsthand experience with both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the changing into a new century. ... As I'd never had the chance to meet my father's father or mother, Mary Jo was the connection to them and the previous generations from that side of the family."

The folk singer fondly shared some of his memories of visiting his aunt in Oklahoma: 

When I was about 13 I went to visit Mary Jo and her husband, Hewlett at their home in Seminole, OK and we took a road trip. Hewlett pulled the car over on the side of the road and asked me if I wanted to try driving on a major highway. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. That was the first time I'd ever driven on a big road like that. No one knew I'd spend just about my entire life on the big roads after that. We're still on them today over 60 years later.

I think one of my favorite things to do was to show up at their home over the years unannounced, in a huge tour bus. We'd pile out and stand around her front yard until she was presentable enough to greet us all. You could hear her screeching inside the house. But, she never missed a beat, and always welcomed us with open arms. She was never, not once, in all those years unprepared for guests (once she got herself fixed up). And never flabbergasted. She was always ready for anything.

She loved being my dads little sister, and my aunt and I dearly loved her, her sense of humor, her twinkling mischievous eyes, and her unstoppable energy. She was a force to be reckoned with, as anyone who attended Woody Fest (The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival) will know.

As my cousin, Hugh said to me "she will be missed is an understatement." A few years ago we'd lost my Aunt Ann (my fathers brothers wife), who along with Mary Jo were a dynamic duo. These elderly gals were worth going out of way way to visit, every time we'd be going through that part of Oklahoma. And we'd make that trip every chance we had.

I'm so thankful that both of their families were nearby and close - My cousins are seriously good and kind people, and we tend to laugh a lot when we get together. Maybe it's something in the water around that part of Oklahoma, or just something in the blood, but whatever it is our sense of family runs deep. I believe it'll stay with us through the generations yet to come... It's just who we are. And I'm simply happy to be one of 'em.

In lieu of flowers, Edgmon's family requests that donations be made to the Woody Guthrie Festival Coalition.

-BAM 

Related Photos
Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives

Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-214aff7ba6609512bc65d7066a10a83b.jpg" alt="Photo - Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives" title="Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives"><figcaption>Woody Guthrie's sister Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, 91, and son Arlo Guthrie tell stories about Woody during the 2014 Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., Friday, July 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Archives</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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