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Mary Joe White

When Mary Joe White moved out of her family home in Decatur she temporarily placed many of her belongings in storage. A water leak destroyed many irreplaceable items with the exception of a 70-year-old quilt that she had sewn with her grandmother.



Mary Joe White was born in Decatur in 1934 and was raised in a tightly knit community. Her grandmother was an influential presence in her life. “I was taught that you were supposed to take care of people and if you had anything, you were supposed to share. I didn’t know anything else but to be kind to others. The only thing we got in the house was love.”

Mary Joe’s family values were instrumental in guiding her through her life’s journey. She worked as a nurse’s aide at Grady Hospital for 34 years and has been a crossing guard in Decatur for the last 18. She has raised four children and nine grandchildren and also cared for her husband, mother, and grandmother when they became ill and through to their last breaths. These days, Mary Joe likes to send handwritten cards to people who are sick or shut-in.

On January 29th, 2016, Mary Joe sold her house in Decatur. “The house had 11 rooms and all the children had left. It was hard with my income trying to keep the house up and paying the taxes.” The house sold in a week. Mary Joe was unable to find a place to live in Decatur and settled for a small apartment outside of the city. She temporarily placed many of her belongings in storage but a water leak destroyed many irreplaceable items with the exception of a 70-year-old quilt that she had sewn with her grandmother.

“My grandmother would sit in a chair and I would sit on the floor to sew quilts. We used scraps from the dresses she made for us. We didn’t finish this one because my grandmother had arthritis in her hands. Now I’m in the process of tacking it together.”

Mary Joe is missing her neighbors in Decatur and is hoping to move back into the City. “When I come out I don’t see people to talk to. I’m in a new environment so it’s just a little difficult.”

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