Mary Jo Brown Layman, 92, received her heavenly angel wings on Tuesday May 19, 2020, surrounded by her loved ones. Mary Jo was born July 27, 1927, in Ashland, to the late Tom Brown and Italy Potter Brown Grimmett.
She was a member of Pollard Baptist Church and attended Wildwood Baptist Church.
In her early life she was a loving daughter. She was also a trusted and beloved sister. Her family was very important to her and remained so throughout her life. She graduated from Ashland High School and had several jobs during that time, she was an operator at the local telephone company and worked at the shake shop downtown. Her husband Vinson loved to tell the story of the beginning of their 67-year marriage. It began with him going to the shake shop with his pals after he returned from the war and meeting Mary Jo, he asked her out and she sternly turned him down, not to be daunted, he returned the following day in his full Army Service Uniform and persuaded her to give him a chance. That was the beginning of an amazing adventure for both of them. As the story develops and they wed, Mary Jo asked the Monday following their wedding if she needed to go to work. Vinson replied, “No honey, your working days are over.” Boy was he wrong. The years following their marriage they were blessed with four more children, in addition to her stepson. She may have recently gained her heavenly angel wings, but to her family she has always been an angel. She was a Brownie and Boy Scout Den Mother; she was a chauffeur who made endless trips to ball practices and ball games. She was a great comforting and compassionate mother who helped her children to mend and patch their hearts, bodies and lives when the inevitable curveballs in life came. There is only one incident of a child forgotten at baseball to even mention among her many accolades of motherhood and grandmotherhood. That’s mentioned in humor and awe because with all of those responsibilities and rowdy boys it’s amazing that it only happened once. The love and care her children have returned to her over the years is a direct reflection of the love and joy she exuded to them and their families all of the days of her life. Her sons and daughter genuinely treasure her. When she had finished her duties raising her children, she began helping them with their own children. There are few people who are regarded by their in-laws as highly as Mary Jo is. Her daughters-in-law characterize her as a steadfast ally and a loyal friend who was exceptionally mild mannered and even keeled when providing support and navigating the nuances of married family life. She frequently hosted sleepovers, cared for sick children, attended doctors appointments and babysat so that her children could travel. She is the bee's knees to her grandchildren. A shining example of a mother and a cool lady to share their childhood with. She and her husband Vinson loved to travel. They traveled with Bill Mordica and his Roadrunners travel club, they also traveled on their own to magical places around the world, her favorite being Majorca, Spain. Sometimes she took her grandchildren with her. But if she was off adventuring alone with Vinson, she never returned from her travels without a token of memorabilia, interesting tales and downright funny stories for her grandchildren that were always anxiously awaiting her return. Not only were they waiting to visit with the best grandmother, they were also anxiously awaiting her return for a taste of her delicious fried chicken!! Everyone agrees it was the “best they ever ate”. Especially her husband Vinson. Through the years she was tasked with hosting many family dinners that required her to feed upwards of 30 people. She never took this as a chore, instead she created great traditions and memories for her family and made some amazing meals. Notably famous in her family were her dinner rolls which took her 3 days to make and were consumed in record time as they hit the table, her German Chocolate cakes for birthdays, Italian Cream Cakes and her special Blackberry Cake. At Christmas her family could always count on expertly crafted bourbon balls and candied pecans, paired with her generous and thoughtful gifts. One of her standout accomplishments were her roses, they were larger than softballs and she doted on them and cared for them like they were a member of her family. When she and her beloved husband would be off on an adventure for the winter, she took the time to write sweet and thoughtful notes to her family at home, those will forever be treasured. Another sweet memory is the way she would say, “Vinson”!!! He was a catbird who kept her on her toes and often waiting. As an entrepreneur he would habitually get tied up with work or later in life he might get absorbed in a conversation with a friend at the flea market or find some new cookies he had to bring home for her to taste. She was the perfect complement to his spirit, creativity and adventure. She was an encouraging partner, a patient and tolerant wife and he loved her beyond measure, just as she loved him. It was a comical and beautiful life they shared together, and I know they are rejoicing their long-awaited reunion. The family and legacy they leave behind is more important than any time clock she could have punched, and the time she devoted to everyone she cared for was priceless. Mary Jo Layman was a precious gem of a lady and the world is a little dimmer without her big, bright, and beaming smile. We were lucky to have her.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her stepfather who raised her Crayton Grimmett, her sisters Elizabeth Davis and Eloise Jackson, her brother Andrew Grimmett, her stepson Vinson Layman, Jr. and her loving husband Vinson Layman, Sr.
She is survived by her children Richard (Jane) Layman, Gary (Kathy) Layman, Martha Layman, and Steve (Melissa) Layman. Her grandchildren Kim Layman, Becky (Steve) Pack, Robin Osbourne, Erica (Frank) Amato, Brandon (Marissa) Layman, Ashley Layman, Alicia Layman, Haley (Neal Heary) Layman, Ali (Jakob) Keiser, Sara Layman, Gage Layman. Her great-grandchildren Colton, Avery, Jack, Gracen, Greer, Rilee, Carlie, Marlowe and Will, and her sister, Norma Grimmett Rice. She is also survived by many special in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. Private funeral services will be held Friday, May 22, 2020 1 p.m. at Steen Central Avenue Chapel in Ashland by Pastor Tom Leach. Burial will be in Ashland Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to Wildwood Baptist Church 3414 Charles St., Ashland, KY 41102. Condolences may be sent to steenfuneralhome.com.
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 5/22/2020 at 12:50 PM, Eastern Standard Time.
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