Shirley-Jo Tuffs

January 1, 2024

Shirley-Jo Tuffs Obituary

Jo (Shirley-Jo Loreen) Tuffs, aged 78, died January 1st, 2024 from a battle with cancer in her home town of Gainesville, Florida. She was the most wonderful wife, mother and magical "Grammy Jo" to her granddaughters. Our hearts are broken; she left far too early, but she accepted her medical diagnosis and said that she lived the life she wanted. 


Jo Tuffs was born September 26, 1945 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan along with two sisters, two brothers and parents whom she loved. She graduated from Ottawa Hills High School and worked as a pharmacy clerk in Blodgett Hospital. There she was encouraged by her Mother and co-workers to pursue a college education and so she attended Western Michigan University where she studied speech pathology. She graduated as a speech therapist and would say she was heavily influenced by Dr. Charles Van Riper, sometimes known as the "Father of Speech Pathology", both professionally and personally. She later worked in the Lee County School system and earned a Master's Degree in Speech Pathology from Florida State University. She then worked in the Bay County school system in Panama City, Florida where she met John Atkins, whom she would marry. Together they would move to San Diego, California where her first son Jeffrey Atkins-Tuffs would be born, only later to move back to Gainesville, Florida where her second son Jason Atkins-Tuffs would be born. 


She was a caring mother who wanted to spend more time with her children and so decided to leave speech therapy to become a performer. She would become the beloved clown  "BoBo-Jo", and later magician "Jodini" and for a number of decades she would entertain thousands of children in and around Gainesville and the North Central Florida area, and even once in Jamaica. Chances are if you grew up in Gainesville in the 80’s and 90’s, you probably attended an event where she performed.  She loved her son's families and created beautiful artwork for storybooks and cards she would share with them, as well as her many friends. She wrote two children’s books; “Mrs. Peabody Finds Her Courage” and “A Visit To The Circus”.  She became very involved with Meals-on-Wheels and would deliver thousands of meals to elderly people in need around Gainesville along with her friends which gave her much fulfillment. 


Jo is survived by her husband, John Atkins; sons Jeffrey Atkins-Tuffs (daughters Eloise and Alice), and Jason Atkins-Tuffs (daughter Eleanor); and Jo’s siblings Winifred and James.  She was preceded by her parents Ernest and Shirley Tuffs, siblings Jean and Ernest Jr.


Jo was an inspiration for so many people. To pay your respects, a funeral will be held at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery on January 28th, 2024 at 2:00 pm.

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Funeral Service
January 28, 2024

2:00 PM
Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery
7204 County Rd. 234
Gainesville, FL 32641


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