Remembering Jo-Anne Wilkie

Longtime Guild member and current board member Jo-Anne Wilkie died on November 7, 2019. Jo-Anne was involved with the Guild for many years as an actor and administrator, paralleling her involvement with the arts at the St. Clair Art Association and other area organizations.

Jo-Anne was also a talented singer and vocal director, leading and participating in numerous choirs and ensembles in her long musical career. We will miss Jo-Anne’s energy and laughter and we thank her for all of the time she devoted to the Guild and to the arts in St. Clair!

Jo-Anne Frances (Krieger) Smithmeyer Wilkie, age 86, of St. Clair, passed away Thursday, November 7, 2019. She was born November 6, 1933, in Garfield, New Jersey, to the late Edward and Mary (Mae) Krieger. Jo-Anne married Ronald Jerome Smithmeyer in 1957, who preceded her in death in 1974. In 1976, she married David John Wilkie, who preceded her death in 2013. Jo-Anne began her working career as a music teacher at St. Joan of Arc, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She followed her calling in music as a choral director for many church and community choirs. Jo-Anne especially cherished her time directing in Indianapolis, where she was able to share her passion for singing and directing with her father. Their love for music and song built a strong bond, creating lasting memories that she always held dear. Jo-Anne worked for the City of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department, coordinating many large-scale events for the city. One of her proudest achievements was Christmas on the Circle, a combination of annual tree lighting ceremonies at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument with a month-long celebration of music. Many of these traditions continue today. Moving to Michigan in 1977, Jo-Anne served as the Founding Executive Director of the Downriver Council for the Arts. Her career as an advocate for local arts in Michigan continued when she became the Executive Director of the Arts Center in Mount Clemens, where she worked for over 20 years.

Throughout her career, Jo-Anne was always active in her church and community. Volunteering was a central part of her entire life. She held multiple leadership and contributing member positions with St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the St. Clair Art Association, the St. Clair Theater Guild and other community organizations. Jo-Anne continued directing choirs through this past spring. Beyond her personal contribution to the arts and music, Jo-Anne’s true gift to all who knew her was her beautiful voice. A magnificent soprano, she always had a song in her voice. Whether at church, local restaurants, on stage or at home, Jo-Anne simply loved, and lived, to sing. She performed in many local theater productions, including her favorite role of Mother Superior in The Sound of Music. Her rendition of “Ave Maria” is legendary among those who knew her. Jo-Anne was a lively and positive spirit, a woman in charge with the voice of an angel. Above all else, Jo-Anne loved spending time with her family and friends, and celebrated each day they had together. She will be missed greatly by all who knew and loved her.

Jo-Anne is survived by her children, Anne (Leon) LaBrecque, Kathryn (John) Klink, Mary (Chris) Poleto, Kathryn (John) Dunn, Lynda Campbell, Scott (Mary) Wilkie, David (Christine) Wilkie, Robert Wilkie; grandchildren, Arielle, Alexander, Annabel LaBrecque, Jennifer (Kyle) Chin, Michael, Matthew Klink, Ella, Jack Poleto, John (Jennifer) Dunn, Alisyn (Travis) Conway, Patrick (Brittany) Dunn, Sandy (Nick) Stankov, Jacob, Nathaniel, Lucian Wilkie, Krislyn, Kennedy Wilkie; great grandchildren, Kristyn, Madelyn, Alayna, Caleb, Andrew, Milynne, Luke, Grace, as well as many other family members and friends, especially her dear friend Brian Moss.

Jo-Anne is preceded in death by Kristyn Wilkie, Gabriel Wilkie, and Amanda LaBrecque.

A funeral mass was held on Monday, November 11, at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Marine City. The family received visitors on Sunday, November 10, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Rosary at 7:00 p.m.) at L.C. Friederichs and Son Funeral Home, St. Clair, Michigan. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made towards a memoriam that will be named in Jo-Anne’s honor at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. To leave a message of comfort visit www.lcfandson.com.