WILMINGTON — After battling progressive supranuclear palsy for over three years, Mary Jo Peck Oakley, 78, died Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at her home. She was born Aug. 10, 1942, in Lake Wales, Fla., to Joseph Stanley Peck and Mary Fraser McCollum Peck. Mary Jo was a 1960 National Honor Society graduate of Winter Haven High School, and graduated from Florida State University in 1964 and 1968 with Bachelor and Master degrees in Science, specializing in home economics.
Mary Jo taught high school home economics in Satellite Beach, Fla., for three years before working two years for the Florida Department of Agriculture in Tallahassee promoting Florida’s homegrown food products.
After her marriage on Sept. 19, 1970, in Winter Haven, she lived in New York City, where she became employed by Theodore Sills, a public relations firm. At Sills, Mary Jo traveled extensively throughout the United States promoting various state food products, such as strawberries, artichokes, and yams by appearing on radio and television talk shows and news segments. In addition, she had new recipes developed and taste tested for her products, with the more successful ones appearing in many newspapers and magazines throughout the country.
For the past 43 years, Mary Jo lived in Wilmington, where she had been a director of the Wilmington Lower Cape Fear Historical Society; Joe Peck Incorporated, a manufacturer of citrus based products; the PRS Group Inc., a geopolitical and economic forecasting firm; and president of the Saint James Episcopal Day School Board of Directors. She also taught art appreciation to elementary school children in New Hanover County for eight years.
Mary Jo is survived by her husband of 50 years, William (Bill) Edwin Oakley; daughter, Mary Alysia Oakley, and her wife, Sharon (Sheri) Lorraine Mahoney; son, William Edwin Oakley Jr., and his wife, Dr. Jennifer (Jenn) Lauren Christenson Oakley; and two grandchildren, Joseph William Oakley and Bryn Mary Oakley.
The Oakley family expresses a special thank you to Nancy Mallard for all she has done for Mary Jo. We also thank Griswold Home Care of Wilmington’s Shalonda Vaughan, Diane McGhee, and Nicole Corbett in making Mary Jo’s last days more comfortable.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 4, at Lebanon Chapel, 814 Airlie Road, Wilmington.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the St. James Rector’s Fund or other religious or charitable foundations of your choice.
Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.