Mary Josephine Wilborn Profile Photo
1935 Mary 2023

Mary Josephine Wilborn

September 25, 1935 — November 26, 2023

It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Mary Josephine Putnam Wilborn, 88, of Mobile, who left her earthly home on November 26, 2023. In this time of sorrow, her family takes great comfort knowing she is now at peace in the presence of her heavenly Father.

Mary Jo or Jo, as she was often called by friends and family, was born in Haleyville, Alabama on September 25, 1935. Her family moved to the Sheffield, Alabama area in 1941. She graduated from Sheffield High School and was a founding member of the Teenettes Club. She attended Freed-Hardeman University, Harding University, and the University of South Alabama, where she earned a teaching degree.

Mary Jo was predeceased by her father, James Wade Putnam and her mother, Mildred Marie Stephenson Putnam.

She was a devoted wife of 66 years to the love of her life, Walter Harrison Wilborn, (Mobile), loving mother to three daughters, Mary Elizabeth Benak, (Robert), (Dothan), Margaret Ann Hess, (Mark), (Vestavia Hills), and Amy Janet Wilborn-Espinosa, (Carlos), (Mobile), grandmother to eight grandchildren, Meghan Benak Brandt, (Matthew), Joseph Harrison Benak, (Lauren), James Stephenson Benak, (Kayla), Robert Andrew Benak (Hannah Sherrer, finance'), (all of Dothan), Thomas Jackson Hess, (Tacoma, WA), Aaron Daniel Hess, (Stella), (Birmingham), Jonathan David Hess, (Oxford, MS), Katherine Grace Wilborn, (Mobile) and great-grandmother to five great grandchildren, Harrison James Benak, Henry Robert Benak, Rials Stephenson Benak, Mary Scott Benak, (all of Dothan), and Stella Grace Hess, (Birmingham)

A gifted teacher, Mary Jo, taught in the Mobile County Public School System for over 25 years teaching math and reading to at risk elementary students. She left indelible marks on the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know and learn from her. Her commitment to teaching went well beyond the classroom. In her spare time, she quietly tutored and taught adults who struggled with reading.

Upon "retirement", she assisted her husband, a retired medical school professor, with the operation and management of Henrietta's Dairy, making small-batch gourmet cheeses for the Mobile market and local restaurants.

Using her God-given creativity and ingenuity, she was a life-long learner and excelled at anything she was determined to tackle. From sewing her own wedding and bridesmaids dresses to operating the largest and heaviest farm machinery at the dairy, she accomplished everything she attempted with excellence and determination.

Mary Jo gave her time and talent to the Young Authors' Conference, an annual statewide writing event for students, and she was a past president of the Metro Mobile Literacy Council. She was a longtime member of Pleasant Valley Church of Christ and attended University Church of Christ until she was physically unable to attend.

In addition to her beloved husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, Mary Jo is survived by sisters Sarah Voorhies, (Muscles Shoals, AL), Peggy Alexander, (San Antonio, TX) and numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.

The family extends a heartfelt thank you to Beverly Morgan and the Springhill Hospice team who provided outstanding and loving care.

Visitation is Saturday, December 2 at 9:30 at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home with the service at 10:30. Burial will be at Mobile Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Carlos Espinosa, Joseph Benak, Stephen Benak, Andrew Benak, Matthew Brandt, Thomas Hess, Daniel Hess, and Jonathan Hess. Honorary Pallbearers are Robert Benak and Mark Hess


“Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 

She looks to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 

Proverbs 31: 25-29.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Josephine Wilborn, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Public Visitation

Saturday, December 2, 2023

9:30 - 10:30 am

Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home

6040 Three Notch Road, Mobile, AL 36619

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Saturday, December 2, 2023

10:30 - 11:30 am

Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home

6040 Three Notch Road, Mobile, AL 36619

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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