Betty Joanne Welsh was born March 29, 1931 in Monona, the daughter of Vivien Joseph and Mary Evelyn (Siglin) Welsh. She never used the name Betty but was known as Joanne to everyone, and as Jo to those closest to her. She was raised by her grandparents, Fred and Maude Siglin. She went all through school in Monona where she was in many activities, especially girl's basketball where she played in the state tournaments all four years. She graduated from M-F-L High School in 1949. She worked in Wirkler's Dry Goods store in Monona as a sales clerk and bookkeeper. On Nov. 2, 1952 Jo married George William Cowell at the E.U.B. Church in Monona. Thirteen months after they were married George entered the Army. While he was stationed at Monterey, Calif., she joined him there for several months. When he went overseas she returned to Monona. After his discharge they farmed north of Monona with his parents, then at Oelwein, and Neillsville, Wisc., before returning to the family farm. They lived in Cedar Rapids until 1987 when they moved to Storm Lake. While in Cedar Rapids Jo attended Young's School of Beauty, where she then worked as an instructor. Being an only child, family was everything to her. She opened her home to many of her kid's friends who also called her Mom. In 1976 Jo was adopted by her stepfather of 32 years, Howard Clawson. In Storm Lake George was the custodian at the United Methodist church, and during the last several years there Jo also shared the job.
Jo was an avid reader her entire lifetime. She crocheted many things for church bazaars and as gifts, as well as doing other types of handwork. Jo was always ready for a board game or a game of cards, where her true competitive nature shined. She also enjoyed puzzles. Jo was a fantastic cook and baker, whether the group was small or large no one ever left her home hungry. She enjoyed spending time with George, her kids, grandkids, and her dear friends. Jo died at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Sioux City, IA, on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, after a short battle with liver cancer.
Preceding Jo in death were her grandparents, her parents, her adopted father, two step-mothers, Marge Clawson and Barbara Clawson, one stillborn premature grandchild, and two brothers-in-law, Duane and Bruce Cowell.
Survivors include her husband George of Storm Lake, one daughter, Pat and her husband Roger Redig of Aurelia, and one son, Tom and his partner Daina Markussen of Remsen. Also surviving are her grandchildren, Rachel and husband Simon Williams, Roman Redig, Leah Cowell and fiancÚ Alex Newman, Simon Cowell, Thomas Cowell, Anna Cowell, and Lakota Cowell, two sisters-in-law, Marcella and husband Kenneth Wendel of Postville, and Carol and husband Dan Schroeder of LaCrosse, Wisc., and other relatives, friends and neighbors.