Jo Ellen Keith, was born on September 1, 1945 and passed away on September 8, 2017 from complications from Stage IV Melanoma Cancer at the John Muir Health Center in Walnut Creek. Jo was a California girl, who was born in the World War II boom town of Long Beach. Her dad, Thomas worked as an expert welder at the California Shipbuilding Corporation during the 1940’s, and welding played a crucial role in winning World War II. After the war ended, the Keith family eventually moved to La Habra, and her dad worked at Standard Oil for 25 years as a welder, and supervisor, while her mom, Doris June was a creative homemaker, who participated in many outside activities.
Jo Ellen graduated from La Habra High School in 1963, and then was accepted into the first freshman class at Orange State College in Fullerton. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography, at California State University, Fullerton in 1969. Getting her BA was delayed when our dear Jo was diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor. At 19 years old she underwent surgery to remove her pituitary gland. This medical condition affected her lifestyle, but it was also one of the reasons why Jo savored life so much more.
In 1969 Jo Ellen started her career at Chevron Research in La Habra, which in 1971 relocated several of its employees from Bakersfield, Juneau, and La Habra to San Francisco. Jo was thrilled that she was part of the team that was being transferred to Northern California, and was also excited about the possibility of exploring this picturesque area. Jo Ellen had a thirty-year career with Chevron Corporation, which eventually transferred its headquarters and many employees from the City of San Francisco to the East Bay, first to Concord, and eventually to San Ramon, California. When computers started appearing on employees desks in the mid-80’s, Jo Ellen immediately started training herself in this new technology, and also in computer programming. She was one of the “go to people”, if other employees needed computer assistance.
In 1999, Jo Ellen retired as a Database Manager, from Chevron Corporation. But, Jo continued learning her entire life, and completed more than 40 plus units at a nearby college with a straight “A” average, and a Graphic Design Credential.
Jo was always on the go, and enjoyed driving in her convertible, and sharing her experiences with friends. “Go Jo” took many driving trips, which included going to the Sierra Nevada mountains, The Gold Country, Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley Wine Country, or up the coast to Mendocino, or down to the coastal cities of Carmel or Monterey for the weekend. She always enjoyed life to the fullest, and her motto was IGO4FUN, (which was her license plate) and a phrase she lived by. Besides weekend trips, she loved doing genealogy research, taking creative photographs, working on stained glass projects, RV camping at beautiful Lake Tahoe, attending college classes, playing with her adorable kitties, going to community summer concerts, sailing around the beautiful San Francisco Bay, and traveling internationally to Canada, Europe, and South America. which included sailing through the Panama Canal. She especially liked cruising as she got older. Jo Ellen will be remembered by her friends and family, for her laughter, the fun times shared, and a “Joy for Life”.
Jo Ellen is survived by her mom, Doris (Hughes) Keith of Concord, CA, brother, Alan Keith of Forestville, CA, sister-in-law, Susan (Jones) Keith of Mountain View, her two nephews, Andrew Keith of San Francisco, & Stuart Keith of Mountain View, and her many cousins and their families, and her forever friend, Coni Lowe. It is planned that eventually Jo Ellen’s ashes will be scattered at sea. In lieu of flowers, please give someone you love a big hug. Life is way too short to be anything but happy.