Jo Anne Campney Obituary

Jo Anne  Campney
Jo Anne Campney

July 23, 1936 - March 23, 2021
Born in Marshalltown, Iowa
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Jo Anne Brown Campney, 84, died Tuesday, March 23, 2021 of complications of ALS at Wesley Acres in Des Moines. A memorial service to celebrate Jo Anne’s life will be held at Grace United Methodist Church on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 11:00 a.m., with a light reception to follow.

Jo Anne was born July 23, 1936 to Gilbert and Maxine (Eige) Brown in Marshalltown. It was 110 degrees the day she was born and Jo was a breech birth. Jo grew up in Marshalltown, graduating from Marshalltown High School in 1954. She attended Marshalltown Community College for one year before moving to Simpson College where she met the love of her life, Arthur Campney. They married on August 18, 1957. They spent the next 27 years sharing in ministry and raising a family, living in various communities in Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania: Mingo/Santiago; Drew University, Madison, NJ; South Sterling, PA; Arnolds Park/Fostoria; Gilmore City/Rutland; Newton, St. Luke’s; Des Moines (Council on Ministries Staff); and Burlington, First.

Through the years, three children were born, Benjamin, Rebecca, and Martha. Tragedy struck the family on October 16, 1974 when Martha was hit by a car on the way home from school and killed. Jo and Art handled this loss with love and support for each other and for the family.

When Art died suddenly of a heart attack on January 25, 1984, Jo had to forge a new path for herself. She moved back to Des Moines and had successful careers, first with the State of Iowa Refugee Service Center and then as the Volunteer Coordinator at Wesley Woods Church Camp. Her final role was as Camp Registrar for the UM Camps for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She retired from this position in 2001. After she retired, she continued to volunteer in various capacities, working in the Sherman Hill office; helping out at the Iowa Annual Conference office answering phones or other tasks as needed; preparing the memoirs section for the Annual Conference Journal each year; and at Grace United Methodist Church, working in the church office and each week recording the contributions for the church.

Volunteering was always an important part of Jo’s life. Beginning in college, she and Art helped with other students from Simpson College to build the first structures at Camp Wesley Woods and planting the grove of trees that greets campers at the entrance of the camp today. The couple took youth groups on mission trips in the 1960’s to Henderson Settlement in Kentucky. In 1977, Art and Jo took a group of UM youth from across Iowa on a mission trip to Brazil, spending a month touring in South America and working on a church building in Bela Horizonte, Brazil. After Art’s death, Jo went to Costa Rica twice on mission trips during the 1980’s. With Sue Terry, Jo made five trips to the UMCOR Depot (United Methodist Committee on Relief) at Sagar Brown in Baldwin, Louisiana. Countless persons benefited from the prayer shawls that she lovingly knitted for the church. Jo spent many hours assisting with house tours in Sherman Hill during Doors to the Past, often opening her homes for tour.

One of the joys of Jo’s life was living in Sherman Hill. She moved first to a coach house on Woodland but soon had purchased a small Victorian cottage that needed to be completed refurbished. She moved in to the house when it was basically down to the studs and with a good contractor and lots of hard work, she built it back to a showpiece. Sue joined her and in 2000, together, they built a new 4-bedroom Queen Anne in Sherman Hill where they lived until moving to Wesley Acres.

Living in Sherman Hill provided lots of opportunities to enjoy another passion, antiquing. With her friend, Chet Guinn, Jo spent many hours collecting her signature piece, aquamarine swirl Depression glass. She also filled her home with other antiques and she had many swan figures and swan related items.

Traveling took up much of Jo’s retirement. With Sue, Jo traveled extensively in Europe and took cruises. They sailed the Rhine, the Mississippi, through the Panama Canal, and various places around the world. One of her proudest accomplishments as a traveler was to have visited all 50 states.

Jo was an active member at Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines for 44 years, participating in the Win Sum class; Mary Circle of UMW; Chancel Choir; attending Open Table; and serving on various committees, most recently on Staff Parish Relations. Jo also participated in MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action); Sherman Hill Association; Questers; P.E.O.-Chapter MA; and Hoover Club. Jo was a delegate to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1988 and she was the first laywoman to serve on the General Board of Pensions who was a current recipient of Pension funds.

Survivors include her children: Ben (Beth) Campney of Des Moines, the Rev. Rebecca (Philip) Carver of Coralville; grandchildren: Joel Carver, Carla (LT. Eric) Olson, Dr. Daniel Sherman; great grandchildren: Evan, Cate, Grayson; brother, Paul (Sue) Brown; and sister-in-law, Chris (Dan) Mitchell; brother-in-law, Richard Campney and three nieces, Judith (Al) Schmidt; Laura (Anne Sartori) Brown; and Lyndsey (Philip) Frigm; and her best friend, Susan Terry. Jo Anne was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Arthur Benjamin; daughter, Martha Jane; brother, Gordon Brown; and nephew, Matthew Brown. Jo chose to donate her body to Des Moines University which is where Martha was donated in 1974.

Memorial contributions may be made to Camp Wesley Woods or Grace United Methodist Church. Online condolences are welcome at




Grace United Methodist Church
3700 Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA US 50311
Saturday, July 17, 2021
11:00 AM