Jo Carr papers
A Guide to the Collection
Bettye Jo Crisler (who went by Jo) was born September 29, 1926 in Greenville, Mississippi. She was the only child of Joseph Neal Crisler and Bessie Esther Gilley Crisler. In 1929, Joseph took a job with the USDA Department of Entomology, and the family moved to El Paso, Texas. Since Joseph’s job involved pest control, the family constantly moved across the south following the pink boll worm. Therefore, Crisler grew up in El Paso, Texas, Lordsburg and Homestead, Florida, and numerous other cities throughout the southern states. She went to nineteen grade schools and three high schools, graduating in Modesto, California.
After finishing high school at the age of sixteen, Crisler traveled alone from California to Lubbock, Texas to attend college. She studied at Texas Tech University, and graduated with honors in 1947 with a B.S. in home economics and a minor in applied arts. Upon graduation, she was hired as a Girl Scout field director which involved organizing troops, training scout leaders, and directing day camps within a sixteen county area around Lubbock.
In December 1947 Crisler married Galen Carr. The Carrs became involved with the Methodist Board of Missions as lay missionaries. They continued to live in Lubbock but spent time in Illinois, Connecticut, and California taking special courses prior to missionary service. Their first two assignments, in China and Korea, were both cancelled due to communist takeovers. Meanwhile, in 1950, Jo Carr gave birth to her first daughter, Cathy.
Finally, in May 1952, the couple left for Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for their missionary service. The Carrs spent five years in Rhodesia, and their second and third children, Mike and Glenna, were born there. Galen, an engineer, supervised the building of two hospitals and some residences while Jo worked as a home demonstration agent.
The Carrs returned to Lubbock in June 1957. Jo Carr gave birth to Becky in 1959 and Doug in 1960. She longed to return to Rhodesia, but had been told it would be best for Galen if he did not return. Galen struggled with schizophrenia, but Jo was not aware of this until after their wedding. After almost twenty years of marriage, Jo Carr filed for divorce in 1967 after finally realizing that her husband’s illness was not going to get better.
Carr began writing in 1957 upon returning to the United States. Initially she wrote stories for children about Africa, but the majority of her published work focused on prayer and devotions. She also wrote curricular materials for teachers, advent calendars, and magazine articles for a number of publications. Her published books include Too Busy Not to Pray: A Homemaker Talks With God (1966), Bless This Mess and Other Prayers (1969), The Intentional Family (1971), Plum Jelly and Stained Glass and Other Prayers (1973), and Mockingbirds and Angel Songs and Other Prayers (1975).
Carr briefly taught English at Texas Tech University. While teaching, she realized her call to pastoral ministry. She entered the United Methodist Ministry in 1977 as a local pastor at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Lubbock. She completed the Course of Study, became an Associate Member of the Northwest Texas Conference in 1983, and was ordained an Elder in 1986.
Reverend Jo Carr was the first woman to be appointed District Superintendent in the Northwest Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. She served from 1989 to 1993 as Superintendent of the Pampa District and also as Dean of the bishop’s cabinet. She served as pastor of churches at Cooper, Levelland, and Crosbyton at a time when West Texas churches still disliked the idea of women pastors. She said that she considered herself a "pastor, not a woman pastor. . . . I think women are called in the same sense that men are called to be pastors. I think God regards us as people."
Bettye Jo Carr died of cancer in her home on July 7, 2007.
"Bettye Jo (Jo) Carr, Obituary." LubbockOnline, July 8, 2007. http://lubbockonline.com/stories/070807/obi_070807089.shtml
"Biographical Note," Bettye Jo Carr papers, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
McMillan, Bobby. "Memories of Jo Carr." http://nwtx.brickriver.com/files/oFiles_Library.../2008memoirs_YC4YZCST.pdf
Pratt, Beth. "Female pioneer in area Methodist churches, Jo Carr, dies at 80." LubbockOnline, July 9, 2007. http://lubbockonline.com/stories/070907/rel_070907044.shtml.
The Jo Carr papers comprise 1.5 linear feet of materials Jo Carr created and collected during her time as a freelance writer. The majority of the collection consists of notes, drafts, and manuscripts Carr submitted for publication. Book reviews, correspondence, news articles, galleys, and publishing contracts are also included in the collection. Carr’s papers reflect her writing style, religious beliefs, personality, and professional success.
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[Identification of item], Jo Carr papers, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
Acquired January 5, 1982.
This collection was arranged and described in 2010 by Allison Osborn.
Lara Corazalla, 2010.
Detailed Description of the Collection