Mary Jo Foerste

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Mary Jo Foerste, nee Vernier, 73, of Belleville, IL, born July 9, 1947, in Belleville, IL, passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 6, 2021.

Mary Jo married Terry Foerste on February 7, 1970, and the couple celebrated 51 years of marriage in February 2021.

Mary Jo was a retired special education teacher.  She graduated from Notre Dame High School and then from Illinois State University.  She taught special education for over 20 years in Belleville District 118 where she cherished her students and her colleagues. Mary Jo was the founder and former owner of My Tutor Learning Center.  In her retirement, Mary Jo enjoyed her grandchildren, traveling, crafts, and entertaining. She was a devout Catholic and longtime member of St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Belleville, IL. Mary Jo enjoyed volunteering her time and belonged to many organizations including Junior Service Club, and life member of Cambridge Who’s Who. She was nominated and approved to represent Women in Business in Who’s Who in America. She was also a member of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, ambassador for the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador of the Year for the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, active in the Belle-Scott Organization, and an annual volunteer for Art on the Square.

Mary Jo was known as MJ or Jo, but her favorite titles were of Mom, Granny and Aunt Jo. Her heart, arms and kitchen were always open.  She never hesitated to provide support, advice, encouragement, a much-needed hug or just a simple cup of coffee.  Her beautiful spirit and infectious smile could light up a room.  During her hardest challenges she remained poised, polite, and gracious.  Her granddaughters were her greatest joy.  Although separated by miles, she would drop everything to be available for them.  She never missed a big event and would always find a way to add her bit of Granny flare to any occasion.  She was so proud of all their accomplishments. Mary Jo chose to pour her heart and light into everyone she met so that they could be a beacon to others.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Margaret, nee Harst, Vernier; an aunt, Marie Crannage; and her in-laws, Wallace and Katherine Foerste.

She is survived by her husband, Terry Foerste; her children, Jeffrey (Laurel) Foerste, and Tori (Aubrey Waddail) Foerste; four grandchildren, Katie and Lily Foerste, and Ava and Kendall Waddail-Foerste; a brother, Rick Vernier; a niece, Ali (Josh) Schaefer; and many cousins and countless special friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, or to St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church, Belleville, IL. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.

Visitation:  Friends may visit from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 13, 2021, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Funeral:  Memorial services will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 13, 2021, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL, with Msgr. William McGhee officiating.

Condolences:

30 Comments on Mary Jo Foerste

Kelly West said : Guest Report Jun 14, 2021 at 3:12 PM

Terry, Jeff, Tori and family, Mary Jo was an inspiration to all. She hired me as a student teacher to work at My Tutor. Her energy, passion, dedication to her career and family were simply amazing. Sending love and prayers to all of you - Kelly (Barre) West

  • Belleville
  • IL
Roger Vallowe said : Guest Report Jun 13, 2021 at 4:26 PM

Such a gracious and loving person. An honor to know her. In my memories for life.

  • Dupo
  • Illinois
Donna Altemeier said : Guest Report Jun 13, 2021 at 2:23 PM

Dear Terry, Jeff, Tori and families, and Rick, Our deepest sympathy to you all. We were so saddened to hear about Mary Jo. There are no words❤️ Please know that you are all in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. We shared many good times, memories we will always cherish. I am currently going through chemo and having a rough time of it so heart breakingly will not be able to attend the funeral home. I pray God gives you strength to get through this. May she rest in eternal peace. With our love, Mark and Donna Altemeier

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Melissa Monroy said : Guest Report Jun 13, 2021 at 11:40 AM

Terry and family, I cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. Mary Jo was a true Angel who was so full of life and love for everyone, you both made me feel like family from the very moment we met and I am forever grateful for you both. My heart hurts knowing I will not be seeing her and talking to her again, never see her lovely smile and smiling eyes but I will forever hold our times together in my head and heart. Please know I am here if you need anything. Sending my love to you all.

  • Scott AFB
  • Illinois
William Schwalb said : Guest Report Jun 13, 2021 at 10:30 AM

Terry and Family: I will never forget smile of Mary Jo, it came straight from her heart and radiated to everyone she met. Its was a distinct honor to have known her.l Her brightness will shine on.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Joan Funk said : Guest Report Jun 12, 2021 at 4:13 PM

Terry and family, I am so saddened to learn of Mary Jo’s passing. I have known Mary Jo for many years, first at Norte Dame, then as a colleague in District 118. Mary Jo was a wonderful person in so many ways. My condolences , thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Mascoutah
  • IL
Ernie Patterson said : Guest Report Jun 12, 2021 at 9:10 AM

Terry, family, & friends, I was so saddened to hear about Mary Jo’s passing. What a precious lady she was. I always enjoyed being with her & Vickie at the beach and our visit to St. Louis. She was not only wise, but such a kindhearted person. You are in our prayers. Ernie & Tim Patterson

  • Knoxville
  • Tennessee
Jodi Mertens said : Guest Report Jun 11, 2021 at 5:42 PM

Terry, Jeff, Tori and families... Rich and I send our deepest sympathies. From the moment I began teaching at Jefferson School, Mary Jo was an endless source of support, friendship, and laughs. Her smile was big, but her heart was bigger! She was a do-er and a giver... always building bridges and connecting people! Rich and I both enjoyed many hours with Mary Jo working at My Tutor and through her Teen Center work. I treasured her friendship as well as your families. I am sure St. Peter welcomed her at the gate with the best cup of coffee ever! May memories bring you comfort as you walk this journey.

  • Millstadt
  • IL
Brad and Elissa Garland said : Guest Report Jun 10, 2021 at 1:19 PM

Terry and family, We are so incredibly saddened by the passing of Mary Jo. She was a TRUE treasure. Words cannot adequately express our appreciation of her friendship and mentorship over the years. Without her insight and trust in our abilities, we would not be where we are today. We will be out of town this Sunday, but please know our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Much love, Brad, Elissa, and Ian

  • Freeburg
  • Illinois
Al Orelt said : Guest Report Jun 10, 2021 at 12:29 PM

Rick, My sincere condolences to you and your family. I served on Jo's committee with the Belleville Chamber ambassadors. I never knew until now that you were related. She was a wonderful person and will be sorely missed.

  • Belleville
  • IL
Terry Patterson said : Guest Report Jun 10, 2021 at 8:50 AM

Rick, my sincerest condolences.

  • Swansea
  • IL
Adrienne Evans said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 10:12 PM

So sorry to hear of the loss of Mary Jo. I taught with her many years in Special Ed. I know she will be a terrible loss to your family. She was a very caring person. Prayers for all of you.

  • Belleville
  • IL
Cindy Evans said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 9:38 PM

Terry and Family, I was so shocked to learn of Mary Jo's death. I have know Mary Jo since High School at Notre Dame. I then taught with her for years, taking over her Special Education classroom when she and Terry moved to Texas. Then again when she returned to Bellevlle and joined the 118 staff. I finished my teaching with her at Westhaven as we integrated her Special class into our Second Grade. She was a dedicated teacher and a good friend to so many. It is my hope that she was at peace in the end and that the family can find joy in their memories of her love.

  • Swanse
  • IL
Jean Nebel Joseph said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 4:08 PM

My prayers and thoughts are with you all. I cherish the many memories created during my time knowing Mary Jo whether in Junior Service Club, Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Art on the Square or just everyday life. She was one of a kind. God truly blessed all who knew her.

  • Belleville
  • IL
Susan Murphy said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 2:00 PM

Her happy smile and sunny personality will be so missed at our Notre Dame lunches.

  • Chesterfield
  • MO
Jerry and Sue Crady said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 1:48 PM

We had such a great time when MJ and Terry visited us down here, and got to hook up with our college friends from EIU 55 years ago. Her sense of humor, laugh, and love for chocolate simply radiated everywhere. She sure will be missed, and we will miss her company. Our sincere condolences to the family.

  • PORT CHARLOTTE
  • FL
Angie Grimm said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 1:03 PM

Mary Jo was a wonderful, big-hearted lady. Met her about 10 years ago and enjoyed hanging out with her and Terry. She’ll be greatly missed. Prayers for all.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Ron and June Riegel said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 12:50 PM

There are many many people who are very saddened by the lose of this wonderful human being!! She always had a way of bringing calm to situations. As a former superintendent this brought great quality to our whole district !! God bless her. Terry and the entire family

  • Belleville
  • Il
Scott and Margaret Dell said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 11:48 AM

We are at a total loss. We are very shocked that Aunt Jo has passed. Her family attended my wedding in New Mexico in 1983, even though they lived in Belleville. What a great person who will be missed dearly. RIP Aunt Jo

  • Fort Worth
  • TX
Shannon McGinn-Corona said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 10:13 AM

Our hearts are with Mary Jo's family and friends. It was an honor to care for her. -Unity Hospice

  • St. Louis
  • Missouri
Reggie and Leah Adams Pruitt said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 7:52 AM

We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Mary Jo and share our most heartfelt condolences with the Waddail-Foerste family, Mr. Foerste and the larger community she blessed with her light. May her enduring love and bright spirit be carried forth through the generations, and may her memories offer you comfort.

  • Houston
  • TX
Joe and Linda Cipfl said : Guest Report Jun 09, 2021 at 7:13 AM

Terry: Please know that Linda and I share with you and the entire Foerste family our heartfelt sympathy. All of you are certainly in our thoughts and prayers. Mary Jo was a wonderful lady, so kind, so thoughtful and so genuine. Mary Jo was an outstanding Belleville 118 teacher and when I was superintendent I was always so impressed by the love and warmth she so generously shared with her students and I was so amazed by the extraordinary knowledge, talent and dedication she always brought to her classroom. Mary Jo was admired by everyone, her students, their parents and her colleagues. And how I remember those terrific grade school years of long, long ago when so many of us were enrolled together with Mary Jo and all of her Vernier cousins in various grades at Saint Augustine's elementary school. Everyone so respected and enjoyed the Verniers. They shared so many fun, delightful and good times with all of us. Terry, 51 years of a beautiful marriage that you and Mary Jo shared. Mary Jo now leaves you with so much love and so many cherished memories that you can enjoy and treasure forever. God bless and please take care!

  • Ofallon
  • Il
Sheri Stauffer said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 6:53 PM

My heart aches for all of you. Mary Jo was one of a kind! She was not only my cooperating teacher, she was my dearest friend. Mary Jo taught me so much inside AND outside of the classroom. Coffee tastes better in a fancy cup with whipped cream. Hostess gifts are a real thing! Celebrating should be done daily not just on special occasions. Mary Jo was the greatest listener and also gave the best advice. I will miss her deeply. Prayers for Terry, Jeff, Tori, and their families, especially those granddaughters.

  • Springfield
  • IL
Sheri and David Welch said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 4:27 PM

Out prayers are with family and friends. Thanks for the wonderful stories along the way Mary Jo. Keep shinning on us.

  • Swansea
  • IL
Terri Dambacher said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 4:23 PM

I was saddened when we got the news!! We were all looking forward to seeing her at the next Belleville Ambassador Luncheon. Mary Jo was one of the nicest people I have ever known! Always had a smile on her face and willing to do or help anyone. I am a better person because of her and I will always cherish our friendship💕

  • Swansea
  • IL
Leslie Schmidt said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 4:09 PM

Heart breaking to hear the news. Mary Jo was just the sweetest!. I loved speaking to her at Belleville Chamber events. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

  • Belleville
  • IL
Denise and Dennis Meile said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 4:03 PM

Please know that you are in our thoughts, and in our hearts.

  • Swansea
  • Il
Patty Meller said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 2:56 PM

This is such sad news! I taught at Jefferson, Douglas and lastly, Westhaven with Mary Jo. I always loved the bit of sunshine she brought into the room. I can still hear her laugh now! Her professionalism and class were second to none. She will be missed. My condolences to her family.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Marsha Daudelin said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 2:47 PM

What a beautiful tribute to our special cousin. She was such a huge part of my childhood. We love you, Mary Jo and will always cherish the memories.

  • Naperville
  • IL
Vickie Young said : Guest Report Jun 08, 2021 at 12:58 PM

I’ve lost my best friend I will miss her sweet laughter and her lovely spirit. She will forever be in my heart. RIP dear friend

  • Belleville
  • IL

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