Mary Josephine Shi was born September 7, 1934 in Stratford, OK, and passed away November 11, 2023 in Noble, OK. She is survived by her children, Raye Lyn Stucker of Midwest City, OK, Augustin Stucker and wife Peggy of Thousand Palms, CA, and Key Winn and husband David West of Noble, OK; grandchildren Vanessa and Elliott West of Noble, OK, sister Molly and husband David Boren, sister Judy and husband Don Connally, sister Susan Crutcher; sister-in-law Carol Shi; 11 nieces and nephews; and many cousins.
Mary Jo was the second child of Augustin and Wanda Shi. She grew up in Stratford along with siblings Bessie Jane, Martha, Molly, Judy, Augustin, and Susan. Because extended family bonds on both the Shi and Winn sides of the family were strong, Mary Jo knew and loved her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her parents and grandparents passed along their love of music and reading to Mary Jo. She played the piano at home for the enjoyment of her father and grandfather, at school for the choir, and at the Stratford Methodist church for soloists. Mary Jo played basketball until it interfered with taking a math class in high school, so she became the scorekeeper for the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams instead. After graduating from Stratford HS in 1952, she attended college at the Oklahoma College for Women at Chickasha. Mary Jo was always proud that she was part of the choir from OCW that sang at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the day the song “Oklahoma” was voted the state song. Although she loved her year at OCW, Mary Jo felt the Lord had something different for her, so she transferred to Oklahoma A&M University. There she met Ray Stucker on a blind date to a wrestling match. They soon became a couple and married in 1954.
The Stuckers continued to live in Stillwater while Ray worked on his Masters degree. Raye Lyn and Augustin were born during that time. After Ray graduated, the family moved to Akron, CO, where Key Winn was born. Mary Jo and Ray moved back to Oklahoma in 1957, living in Oklahoma City for a few years where Mary Jo worked as a medical transcriptionist at the Oklahoma Medical Arts Laboratory. Ray’s company transferred him to work in Shawnee when the children were still young. Mary Jo loved being a mother and homemaker. As the children grew, she became a PTA member, Cub Scout den mother, Camp Fire Girls leader and camp song leader. She was also a band parent who worked in the concession stand at home football games.
The YMCA in Shawnee became like a second home to the Stuckers. There Ray and Mary Jo played racquetball and Mary Jo led a women’s exercise class. In 1965 they organized the first youth wrestling program. Neither Ray nor Mary Jo had ever seen wrestling before attending Oklahoma A&M, but they both became ardent fans of the sport. Because of the individual nature of the sport and the different weight classes, they felt wrestling would appeal to athletes in a way that other sports would not. Since Shawnee schools had no wrestling program, the YMCA program was a way to introduce the sport. Although the program had a coach, Mary Jo was still called upon to help demonstrate moves in practice during the early years because she was one of the few who knew what the moves even were. The grade school age program was a resounding success, attracting participants not only from Shawnee, but from Tecumseh, Bethel, Dale, and McCloud. Several schools began programs as a result of the YMCA program.
In order to raise money to support the program, a tournament was initiated. After attending other tournaments and running their own, Mary Jo decided there had to be a better way to run them. Her solution to keep the matches going in a continuous manner on each of the mats was to number the matches. The match number and the on-deck assignments were displayed up on a screen by the overhead projector. Every wrestler knew where he was supposed to be and when. The system was copied by other wrestling clubs around the state. Mary Jo would arrive at a tournament and find somebody waiting for her to whisk her off to help them learn the ins and outs of the system. To this day you will find the matches are numbered at all levels of wrestling. This alone would not have made the Shawnee way of running a tournament the gold standard. The dedication of the parents and volunteers who learned their jobs and performed them was the success story.
When wrestling was added to the Shawnee school sports program, Mary Jo was the scorekeeper at home matches and acted as an honorary grandmother to many of the wrestlers. Since 1980 the Shawnee HS Takedown Club has given the “Stucker Award” to the family that exhibits the greatest dedication to wrestling, and in 1991 the Shawnee HS wrestling facility was renamed the Stucker Wrestling Complex. In 1999 Ray and Mary Jo were inducted as a couple into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for their Lifetime Service to Wrestling. Mary Jo went on to keep score for the OSU Cowboys home wrestling matches for many years. She joined the NCAA Wrestling Officials organization (scorekeepers and timekeepers are considered officials) because she wanted to better understand the rules and their interpretation.
After their children were grown and gone, the Stuckers moved to an acreage in the City of Johnson. They enjoyed visiting with the neighbors and Mary Jo served as the City Treasurer for several years.
When Ray died in 2012, Mary Jo didn’t feel she could continue with the wrestling without him. Instead she became a volunteer at the Shawnee Library organizing the books that had been donated. In previous years she had been the manager of a used bookstore in Shawnee. Getting to know the customers and recommending different authors and genres made the job very enjoyable. At the library, she would find patrons browsing the books for sale and promise to keep an eye out for what they were looking for should it come in.
Mary Jo was a cherished member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church family for several years before moving to Noble, OK to live next door to her daughter Key Winn. There she loved worshipping with her new church family at the Tabernacle of the Congregation. For the last few years of her life Mary Jo was well cared for at The Gardens at Rivermont in Norman, OK.
Mary Jo was preceded in death by her parents, husband Ray, sisters Bessie Jane Shi and Martha Dew, and brother Augustin Shi, Jr.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Shawnee Public Library and the Shawnee HIS Wrestling Takedown Club.
Services will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday, January 5, 2024 at the Tabernacle of the Congregation 4275 Banner Rd, Noble, OK.