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Jo Ellen Heller


Jo Ellen Heller, born on June 15, 1934 in Piedmont, S.C., passed peacefully at her home in Fernandina Beach surrounded by family. She was 85 years old.

Jo was devoted to her family; a Navy wife who accompanied her husband to duty stations around the United States and Puerto Rico. After raising her children and settling in Fernandina Beach, she became a mental health advocate and activist, working tirelessly to help pass legislation for self-directed care in Florida. Jo was a founding member of NAMI of Nassau County (National Alliance of Mental Illness). A respite house in Fernandina was named in her honor, �The Jo Heller House.�

She leaves behind her husband of 69 years, James Theron Heller; her son, Michael S. Heller and his wife, Deretha; son, James D. Heller and daughter, Cynthia Heller Pennington; daughter, Andrea L. Heller (deceased); her grandchildren, Micah S. Heller and his wife, Danielle; Megan S. Langan and her husband, Josh; Nathan G. Pennington, Ashley J. Pennington and six beautiful great grandchildren of whom she was inordinately proud, as well as several great grand dogs and cats.

Please join us in a celebration of Jo�s life on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at 11:00 AM at The Outreach Center, Journey Church, 95707 Amelia Concourse, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to NAMI Nassau County, Florida.


NANCY SWEATLAND February 1, 2020
My deepest condolences Jim on the passing of your beloved wife Jo and to your family. Jo was my friend, my fellow advocate, my spiritual mentor. The years we spent helping develop the Florida Self Directed Care program getting it expanded, and trying so very hard to protect the intent and integrity of the program were difficult but so rewarding seeing lives changed. We planted the seeds and the garden continues to grow. I will miss her sweet spirit. She taught me so many things. Her faith was ligjt a lighthouse that helped so many find their way home in the midst of a storm. May you now rest in the arms of the Lord. We will see each other again. I am praying for your family as they travel through these difficult days. Love in Christ, Gordon and Nancy (Fudge) Sweatland.

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