1926– 4 August 2018
Jo passed away peacefully at Huntleigh Home, Karori, on 4th August 2018. She was the beloved wife of the late Ted; loved mother of John, Marianne and Edward; and grandmother of Thomasin, Daisy and Bodhi.
Jo loved her Nga Tawa years (1940 -1944). She was Head of Barker and recipient of the Nga Tawa Prize in 1944. Nga Tawa gifted her life-long friendships, a deep faith that always sustained her, and the foundation for a vocation teaching the natural sciences.
In 1945, encouraged by Jane Jackman (née Black) and her family, Jo left for Otago University to study zoology. Jo's mother died during the summer holidays of 1947 and she transferred to Victoria University to complete her Bachelor of Science and be closer to her Manawatu family. After graduating, she taught biology at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington. Jo was only a few years older than her pupils and loved getting them out of school and on field trips.
From 1950 to 1954, Jo worked as a research assistant and lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Zoology at Massey University. She left to travel overseas in 1954, and after a remarkable journey through India and Europe, she was offered a position as lecturer at the Natural History Museum in London.
In 1958 home called, and Jo returned to New Zealand. She briefly taught biology and science at Wanganui Girls College before marrying Ted Abraham. They raised their family, farming in Kiwitea and then in the Rangitikei hill country near Mangaweka. In 1971, Jo accepted the position of biology teacher at Taihape College, where she worked for 20 years. It gave her enormous satisfaction to connect her students to the natural world. There were many field trips and adventures into the Ruahine, Tongariro National Parks and beyond. Her classroom was alive with creatures, plants, and colourful posters. The family hosted the class axolotls, lizards, and pet rats in the holidays, and shared the freezer with strange specimens put aside for student investigation. In the years that followed Jo's retirement her children were often approached by ex-pupils whose lives and careers she had inspired.
Clear themes of adventure, friendship, faith, study, and a love of this planet ran through Jo's long life.