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 Mount Ayr Record News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 01, 1998

LETA JO (DAVIS) WISEMAN ROSS

Leta Jo DAVIS was born in Harrison County, Missouri, on February 14, 1914, the daughter of Orba and Hazel (MENDENHALL) DAVIS. This area was known as "The Nation," located in southwestern Iowa on the Iowa-Missouri border.

Leta attended school at the Nation School which was also used as a church. Later, the DAVIS family moved to Watterson, located south of Mount Ayr, where the family operated the community store.

Jo graduated in 1933 from Mount Ayr High School. She married George FARMER who was Ringgold County's auditor.

At a time when women didn't do such a thing, Jo became the first female licensed airplane pilot in southwestern Iowa. She was a member of the "99ers," a flying club that was founded by Amerlia EARHART.

During the 1940's Jo owned and operated the Mount Ayr Cleaners, located on the south side of the town square. One day a stranger, Whitney WISEMAN, came into the shop, wanted to have a pair of his pants pressed. Not only did Jo do that, she also took him flying and ended up accompanying him into darkest Africa. In 1950 when Whitney was working as a road contractor in Lebanon, he sent for Jo. They were married on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, at the exact spot where the whale was supposed to have coughed up Jonah. Later, Whitney was killed in a construction accident in South Africa.

Jo met Jim ROSS in Africa after he had left the F.B.I. to assume a position as a comptroller with Whitney's construction firm. They lived in Kentucky.

Jo, a talented artist, had many of her paintings on display at the Jo ROSS Art Studio in Kentucky and in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. At one time, Jo owned a house, a farm, and the historic Ringgold County jail. She had planned to live in the jail at one time.

Jo died on September 24, 1998 at her home in Brandenburg, Kentucky. She was interred at Kirk Cemetery near Allendale, Missouri.

To submit your Ringgold County biographies and obituaries,
contact Sharon R. Becker at srbecker@windstream.net.
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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