As a minister's wife for more than fifty years, Jo Ann Paris Leavell has come to know ministry as part of her regular routine. But as readers of her book Joy in the Journey discover, she had to make drastic changes in her ministry due to health problems. However, she still serves her congregation and community with the same practices and principles she taught in her first book Don't Miss the Blessing.
Leavell was married to Dr. Landrum P. Leavell II, president emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary until his death on September 26, 2008. She taught classes for ministers' wives and conducted family life conferences with her husband. At retreats, luncheons, and conventions around the country, she could be found addressing groups on issues of family, time management, money, and the joy of the ministry that a wife can share with her husband. Since her husband's death, Leavell has pursued an active ministry of her own through teaching, speaking, and writing.
Leavell's work has not gone without recognition. She developed a training program for ministry wives at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and was president of the Ministers' Wives of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1976. Twice she has served as chairman of Lord, Change Me, an interdenominational conference for today's women. In addition, in 1990, she received the Mrs. J. M. Dawson Award for distinguished ministers' wives.
However, it is the combination of all of her roles, wife, mother, grandmother, that has given her the greatest joy. She has four children: Dr. Landrum P. Leavell III, associate pastor, the Village Church, Denton, Texas; Ann Leavell Beauchamp, assistant to a chartered financial consultant, Greensboro, Georgia; Roland Q. Leavell II, president, Rives-Leavell Church Bond Company, Jackson, Mississippi; and Dr. David Leavell, pastor, First Baptist Church, Millington, Tennessee. This grandmother of eleven is still active in her community and local church, First Baptist Church, Wichita Falls, Texas.