Jo was born Jeanette Irene Beers on Sept. 11, 1934, in her grandmother's house in Angola, Ind. She was raised by her parents, Homer and Ione Beers, in Auburn, Ind., where she graduated from high school while working part-time jobs to help support the family. She met her husband, Robert L. Betz, while working as a secretary at the Hanford Atomic Works in Washington state during the Korean War; Bob was in the Army.
She became a journalist at the encouragement of a cousin who was an editor at the Sandusky, Ohio, Register. Jo was a reporter for the Register covering the community, schools and local government in neighboring Milan; her watchdog reporting helped shine light on a canal project that provoked public outrage. She later was an editor and columnist for the Warren, Pa., Times Mirror and Observer, where she transformed the women's pages into a modern lifestyle section. Jo was a freelance writer for WJR-AM in Detroit; the Cleveland Plain Dealer; the Toledo, Ohio, Blade; and the Rockford, Ill., Register Star.
She later turned to public relations and advertising, first for the Des Moines Savings and Loan Association of Iowa, then founded the Prose Pros, an award-winning advertising agency in Des Moines. Jo retired as the public relations director of Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, N.Y. The museum was a central part of the lives of Jo and Bob, who continues to work as a tinsmith and interpreter. Jo was active in professional organizations throughout her career, and was a past chairwoman of the Visitor Industry Council in Rochester.
In her retirement, Jo continued creative pursuits through the home arts, especially quilting, canning and gardening. Her quilts and elderberry pie won numerous awards. She and Bob operated the Tin and Brass Works in Mumford, where they shared a workshop and store where they sold handmade goods. She was a member of the Big Springs Garden Club of Caledonia and Mumford and a past member of the Genesee Valley Quilt Club in Rochester.
Jo is survived by her husband; five children, Thomas (Joan) Betz of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Debra (Mark) Ciskey of Normal, Ill., Beth Betz of West Monroe, La., Dean (Patricia Mitchell) Betz of Houston and David (Suzanne Gallagher) Betz of Columbus, Ohio; three brothers, Barney (Mary Alice) Beers of Greensboro, N.C., L. Nick (Georgeanne) Beers of Riverside, Calif., and Bruce (Sue) Beers of Matthews, N.C.; a sister, Victoria (Neal) Volz of Fort Wayne, Ind.; a beloved sister-in-law, June Betz of Sandusky; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, at St. Feehan's Church at Genesee Country Village and Museum, with a reception to follow at the museum. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Genesee Country Village and Museum, in memory of Jo Betz, attention Susan, P.O. Box 310, Mumford, N.Y., 14511.