Long Beach, Mississippi – Josephine (Jo) Lichtenberg, 83, went home to live with her Lord on June 23, 2022, after a lengthy illness. Jo was born in Donalsonville, Georgia to Versa and Earlie Mercer. She grew up in the small town of Chattahoochee, FL and graduated from Chattahoochee High School in 1956. Jo continued her education at Chipola College in Marianna, FL. In 1958, she met a handsome Coast Guardsman and the love of her life, Ralph E. Lichtenberg. They were married on June 18, 1959 in Chattahoochee, FL. Jo enjoyed her many years of being a military wife and made a loving home for her husband and 2 daughters wherever they were stationed. She often became the church pianist and played with such spirit and joy. Their military travels brought them to Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Maine, Hawaii, California, and Mississippi. Jo continued her education at the University of Southern MS, receiving a Bachelor of Education degree and began a long and greatly respected career as a science educator with the Long Beach School District. Career highlights include being selected for the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Award in 1992 and as the 1996 Fifth Congressional Teacher of the Year. After retirement, Jo and Ralph began traveling for relaxation, often with their grandchildren. Jo was extremely talented and enjoyed painting in oils and watercolor, writing, playing the piano and flute, sewing, decorating and party planning. She was known for the dozens and dozens of homemade cookies that she made every Christmas. Jo published her first children’s book, “Everyone Loves Alfie” in 2011 and was working on a book about her beloved town of Chattahoochee, FL at the time of her passing.
Jo was a long-time member of First Baptist Church of Long Beach, MS, where she served as a Sunday School Teacher at various levels from students to her cherished Good News Sunday School class. Jo loved hosting the Good News Sunday School Christmas Brunch and gifting each member with one of her special, hand painted ornaments.
She enjoyed meeting people and never met a stranger. Jo loved her family more than anything and she was a source of continuous support and encouragement. She was extremely proud of her husband, children, and 3 grandchildren. Jo loved to share stories with others about those she loved.
Left to cherish her memory is her beloved husband of 63 years, Ralph Lichtenberg of Long Beach, MS; daughters, Lynda (Michael) Van Winkle of Biloxi, and Pamela (Richard) Heard of Ocean Springs, MS; her 3 grandchildren, Blake Van Winkle of Caret, VA and Derek Van Winkle of Hattiesburg, MS (both who lovingly called her Granny); Sarah Beth Heard of Ocean Springs, MS (who lovingly called her “my Naka”) as well as nieces/nephews, great nieces/nephews and many friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, Versa and Earlie Mercer, and sister and brother-in-law, Virginia and James Nix.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at First Baptist Church of Long Beach, MS 300 N Cleveland Ave., Long Beach, MS beginning at 12 noon. A celebration of life service will immediately follow at 1:00pm. Graveside Services will convene after the church service at the Biloxi National Cemetery, 400 Veterans Ave., Biloxi, MS at 2:30 pm.
Pallbearers are Michael Van Winkle, Blake Van Winkle, Derek, Van Winkle, Brant Nix, David Lane, and Jon Helton.
The family would like to thank Katherine Miley, Rose Locanio, and Whitnee Lane as well as Notre Dame Hospice for the loving care they gave our precious Jo.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial contributions be made to His Church Rising building fund for Long Beach First Baptist Church.
Riemann Family Funeral Home, Long Beach will be serving the family.