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Jo Ann Adams Dies

The longtime horsewoman brought Rocket Wrangler to The Mountain.

November 15, 2013

Jo Ann Adams, 68, died November 13 in Houston after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Jo Ann and her husband J.R. Adams raced American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer and champion Rocket Wrangler, who won the 1970 All American Futurity and later sired world champion and longtime leading sire Dash For Cash, 55 other stakes winners and the earners of more than $9.4 million.

Born December 18, 1944, in Lufkin, Texas, Jo Ann was the youngest of four children of Doyle Burris and Evelyn Worthy Burris Gibson.

On July 3, 1969, Jo Ann married J.R. Adams. They made their home in Guymon, Oklahoma, where they owned and operated a highway construction business and where their daughter Ashley Swan was born March 4, 1971. When J.R. died in 2000, JoAnn remained active as the owner of Highway Contractors Inc. in Guymon.

She also continued her involvement in Quarter Horse racing, running her horses mostly in Oklahoma and New Mexico. This was a source of great pride and joy in her life, highlighted by her racing of Joanna Kate, the Rare Form mare she bought as a yearling at a Heritage Place sale and named for her beloved granddaughter. A Grade 1-winning earner of $539,084, Joanna Kate is the dam of stakes winner Thanks For The Ride, 10 other winners and the earners of more than $360,000, including the stakes-placed I Aint Jo Chick, who ran in By By JJ’s All American Futurity (G1), and Jax Ross, who ran in champion Leading Spirit’s Rainbow Futurity (G1).

Jo Ann also bred and co-owned Quarter Horses with Duane Harrel of Leedey, Oklahoma, her best friend and loving companion of many years.

Jo Ann was a member of Victory Memorial United Methodist Church. She was a witty, loving, generous woman with a beautiful, bright smile for all who knew her. She dearly loved life, her family and her friends.

Jo Ann is survived by her daughter, Ashley Landess, of Guymon; step-daughters Debbie Kerl of Perryton, Texas, and Jody Mason of Whitesboro, Texas. She also is survived by grandchildren Joanna Kate Whipple and Jax Ross Whipple, both of Guymon; Jake, Kelley and Eric Kerl, all of Perryton, Texas; Shawn Mason of Dumas, Texas; Christy Nunley of Hico, Texas; Josh Mason of Whitesboro, Texas; and Tyler and Thomas Landess of Wellington, Texas; and eight great-grandchildren. She is also survived by two sisters, Geraldine Renken of Lufkin, Texas, and Jan Lankford of Beaumont, Texas; brother Jerry Burris of Lufkin, Texas; and many beloved nieces and nephews, great-nieces and -nephews and friends.

Jo Ann was preceded in death by her father, Doyle Burris; her mother, Evelyn Worthy Burris Gibson; parents-in-law Bill and Eva Adams; brother-in-law James Adams, and sisters-in-law Elizabeth Adams Chapman and Kathern “Kate” Adams Cruzan.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Monday, November 18, at Victory Memorial United Methodist Church in Guymon, with Pastor Gary Holdeman, Pastor Deborah Hollifield and Jo Ann's nephew Blake Powers officiating. Interment will follow in Elmhurst Cemetery under the care of Henson-Novak Funeral Directors.

Memorials may be given to Oklahoma Panhandle Partners, “OPP Guymon Community Enrichment Foundation”, which provides local cancer support, or to the Victory Memorial United Methodist Church or First Presbyterian Church. These can be sent c/o Henson-Novak Funeral Directors, P.O. Box 1306, Guymon, OK 73942.