Jo passed peacefully with her loving daughter by her side. Of Irish descent and a native of Byron, Jo was the daughter of John and Cassie Armstrong.
She was raised on a dryland ranch near Byron Hot Springs; the famous barn with the American flag beside Vasco Road still stands, a landmark of the family homestead. The baby of her family, Jo had four older brothers who adored her.
Jo attended the one-room school at Byron Hot Springs through the eighth grade, riding her horse, Snowball, to school. She graduated from Liberty Union High School in 1943. Jo met her husband, Vernon Allen, when he was stationed at Byron Hot Springs (Camp Tracy), which held captive high-ranking German and Japanese soldiers during the war.
Vern and Jo were married on March 11, 1944. They started their family in 1945 and built their home on Third Street in Brentwood in 1953. Vern was a plumber by trade, a volunteer firefighter and an avid hunter and fisherman. Jo kept an immaculate home and was a dental assistant for 20 years at an office down the block. In their younger days, Jo and Vern were a fixture at local functions, dancing into the night with friends, with the party often culminating in their small kitchen with coffee, eggs, sausage and fried potatoes. They raised two children and to their four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, provided a sanctuary of unconditional love, life lessons, cartoons and a never-ending supply of ice cream, waffles, and toast.
Jo was a storyteller and local historian. She could verbally chronicle the family tree of everyone in the Brentwood/Byron area. She had a remarkable memory even in her last days. Jo was often interviewed about life in East County in the 20th century; many of her memories made it into print at the Historical Society, thanks to her nieces Kathy and Shirley. Jo had a quick and sometimes bawdy wit. She loved to sing. She was a content person with a strong constitution.
Thanks to the dedicated caretaking by her daughter, Sharyn, she was able to fulfill her wish of living in her home until the end of her life. She was preceded in death by her loyal husband of 58 years, Vern, in 2001. She never remarried but had alternate love affairs with Alex Trebek and Lawrence Welk, depending on the night of the week.
She was also preceded in death by her beloved daughter-in-law Krista Allen and son-in-law Bob Metez, who both cared for her deeply. She is survived by her daughter, Sharyn Metez (Bruce Ashford) of Brentwood; her son, James Allen of Quincy, Washington; her grandchildren, Kim, David, Kate and John and eight great-grandchildren (Tristan, Sophia, Aly, RJ, Davey, Sylas, Jual and Lausten). Special thanks to Gabby, Valarie and Monique for their loving care.
Should you wish to honor Jo’s memory, send donations to Veterans or American Hospice. The world has lost and heaven has gained a loving, beautiful soul. Due to COVID-19, services are postponed.