One of the community's most powerful and colorful women has died.
Mary Jo Cusack, longtime mayor of the village of Riverlea, died Dec. 10 following heart surgery at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
Worthington City Council opened its meeting with a moment of silence to remember Cusack on the evening of her death. Cusack was a frequent visitor to council meetings and was a presence at many civic and social functions.
"She was such a vibrant part of our community," council member Bonnie Michael said.
Besides being active in civic affairs, she also mentored young female attorneys, Michael said.
"Mary Jo has been a dear friend to a lot of people," Michael said.
She was an elected member of Riverlea Village Council for 22 years and was mayor from 2004 until 2011. She was such a central part of the Riverlea community that council meetings were held at her house.
Cusack was born and raised in Canton. She graduated from Marquette University in 1957 and received a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University in 1959. She was the only woman in her graduating class.
She began her career with the Industrial Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Taxation. She went into private practice in 1961 with her late law partner, Francis Cortruvo.
She continued to practice law and had an office in Worthington.
She was the first female president of the Franklin County Trial Lawyers and past president of the National Association of Woman Lawyers, where she received the Lifetime Service and Toch awards.
She was active in local Democratic politics and served as a poll watcher in the latest election as a representative for the Democratic Lawyers of Columbus.
She was active in the Pilot Club of Columbus and was a past president. She also served on the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority Board and recently participated in the opening of the Hilton Downtown Columbus.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:15 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Immaculate Conception Church, 414 E. N. Broadway, Columbus.
Calling hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home, 515 High St., Worthington.
Contributions can be made to the Pilot Club of Columbus for a statue for the Jerry Mock Aviatrix Project, 3241 New Gate Court, Dublin, 43017, or to the BREAD organization, 404 S. Third St., Columbus, 43215.