Thanksgiving is going to be different for JoAnn Camara and her family this year. Her mother’s beloved dinner rolls will be absent and her seat at the table will be empty, however, the family will not be any less thankful.

“My mom just passed away on the 23rd of October,” Camara, who entered the Star-Herald’s “What are you thankful for,” essay contest, said. Her death was unexpected.

“I’m grateful for the time God let me have with her.”

Camara’s mother, Maria “Terry” (Ozuna) Livermont, was born on Aug. 1, 1950 in Edinburg, Texas. In the early 1960s, she moved with her parents and siblings to Scottsbluff.

She graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1970 and married Camara’s father in 1974. She began taking classes at Nebraska Western College, but never graduated.

“She was one semester shy of graduating with her associated degree before she started a family,” Camara said.

When her children were born, school became a thing of the past for Ozuna, who poured her soul into being a mother.

“We were her main priority,” her daughter said.

Camara called her mom a “godly wife and mother,” who was dedicated to making sure her kids had everything they needed — even if it meant some late nights.

“I remember her staying up until midnight or 1 a.m. making our clothes,” Camara recalled. She says her wardrobe matched her sisters’. “We always matched. I have a picture of us where we’re all wearing plaid dresses.”

Before Camara was born, her parents began attending church — this would play a significant role in their lives.

“She loved God with all her being and loved to share him with others,” Camara said.

Ozuna did that through teaching Sunday school at the Church of Christ and helping anyone who needed it. Growing up with parents of strong faith helped Camara form her own bond with Jesus Christ, she said.

Ozuna taught her children to sing so they could participate in the church choir and gave up taking piano lessons so they could learn to play instead.

“I’m so thankful she put her wants and desires aside for the sake of her family,” Camara said.

Ozuna loved to read — Christian romances were her favorite — and she ensured each one of her children could read before starting school. When Camara was a fifth grader, Ozuna began homeschooling the kids and teaching them the value of helping others.

“We didn’t have a TV growing up,” Camara said. “All we knew was visiting the elderly and reading.”

After the kids were out of the house, Ozuna remained dedicated to helping the less fortunate.

The way Ozuna lived her life has influenced the way her children and grandchildren live theirs. Camara said she taught them “to love God, to make sure we were all together, to live faithful lives here, even though she’s gone.”

Four months ago, Camara gave birth to her son. Although Ozuna had limited time with him before her death, Camara says he will know his grandmother.

“I’ll tell him that she loved him very much,” she said. “She used to sing songs to him and tell him Jesus loves him and that he needs to be good for his mom.”

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

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