October 19, 2023

Mary Jo Prince, age 87, of Wise, Virginia, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, October 8, 2023.

She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Italian immigrant parents, the late Joseph and Elizabeth Tummolo. In addition to her parents, Mary Jo was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 58 years, Lester Prince, and siblings Violet, George, and her dear sister Dorothy (Dot), who was like a second mother to her.

She is survived by cherished daughter, Jill Prince of Bristol, Tennessee; her devoted kitties, Missy and Lucy; many treasured friends including Sue Wells, Paula Stanley, Peggy Gibson, and many others; brother-in-law Howard Prince and wife Alice; and an abundance of much-loved nieces and nephews.

Mary Jo had a rough start in life, with her father passing away a week after her first birthday, and she spent the bulk of her early years residing at the Scotland School for Veterans’ Children in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. After graduation, she lived in Newport News, Virginia for several years while working as a radio station secretary and a bookkeeper for Virginia Electric & Power Company (VEPCO).

On a trip to Wise to visit sister Dot in the summer of ‘62, the pair were eating at the lunch counter of the old City Drugstore in Norton when she caught the eye of Lester, the handsome young pharmacist there. They had their first date on Lester’s birthday, were engaged two months later, and were married the following summer. Daughter Jill was adopted three years later, and Mary Jo said “It was the best $375 we ever spent!”

Mary Jo loved all animals, but had a particular affection for cats and there were always at least two or three calling the Prince house their home, with a few strays camped out on the patio for good measure. Both the living ones AND the decorative ones were always a prominent part of Mary Jo’s household! She also had a passion for crafts, antiques, and “country” decor which she proudly displayed in her beautiful home.

Mary Jo spent many years devoting her time to being a loving mom and wife while also working as a secretary at Shelton-Witt Equipment. However, in the 1980s, Mary Jo decided to combine her love of country decor with her entrepreneurial spirit, and she opened her own country decor business. Started initially as a home-based enterprise, it continued to grow and grow until she opened her own shop in Wise called Strictly Country which she ran successfully for several years. After winding that down, she embarked on yet another chapter as a salesperson at Belk Department Store where she was consistently one of their top sales performers year in and year out until her retirement, and where she made many wonderful friends among her co-workers and customers.

Mary Jo loved to watch sports, especially golf and football, and made many trips with daughter Jill to cheer on the Hokies at Virginia Tech. She also loved word games and puzzles, was an avid watcher of the Game Show Network, and was still beating everyone at Wheel of Fortune till the very end!

Mary Jo was a longtime member of the Wise Baptist Church and, in her later years, worshiped at East Park Avenue Baptist Church in Norton, VA and loved spending time with her church families.

Mary Jo was very devoted to her husband Lester and spent several years taking wonderful care of him as his health declined. Likewise, in addition to daughter Jill, she was lucky enough to have wonderful caregivers who gave so much of themselves to make her final months happy and comfortable: caring family, friends, and neighbors in Wise like Phillip and Andrea Prince, Bill Dotson, Sue Wells, Joe Rose, and many many others who helped keep her in her home there as long as possible; and amazing friends and caregivers in Bristol who allowed her to remain in her home there until she passed: Donna Humphrey, Vicki Trotter, Edie Adcock, and the entire team at Amedisys Hospice (especially Michelle, Jennifer, and Connie). Mary Jo and Jill are grateful beyond measure to all of you.

Services will be private. If you wish to make a remembrance, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Project ALS in tribute to Mary Jo’s beloved late nephew Phillip Timp (4330 Camp Kaufmann Road, Huntingtown, MD 20639). or to The Bridge Home No Kill Animal Shelter (P.O. Box 654, Blountville, TN, 37617).

Please visit to leave online condolences for the family.

Sturgill Funeral Home 1621 Norton Road SW Wise, VA 24293 is in charge of arrangements.