This photo was taken in 1947 of Jody's family shortly after her mother died from leukemia. She is the younger of the two sisters in this photograph. Absent from the photo is her baby sister, Ginny.

FROM LENORA'S GARDEN

Her best friend and the love of her life, her husband, Werner.

Her mother, Virginia E. M. Bierer.

Her USC Year Book Senior Photo, 1972. She graduated at age 32.

Inspirational Adoption Novel

Based on a True Story

Her daughter Wendy Gail Shealy

Lenora Livingston

AKA

Jo-Ann "Jody" Wilhelm

Who is Lenora Livingston, the author of Where's Stephanie? She's none other than Jo-Ann Wilhelm the Screenwriter who wrote the six-time film festival award winning screenplay Where's Stephanie?. So who is Lenora Livingston aka Jo-Ann Wilhelm aka Jody?


As a child  she, enjoyed writing poetry in her rural three-room, three-teacher, wooden school house that covered grades one through six. The school, which was only accessible by dirt road, had a pot-bellied stove, a hand pump outside for its water source, and two paths, one to a girl’s two-seater privy and one to the boys. We were afraid to go  near a third privy for fear of death. It was boarded up and covered with vines, because a little girl had died from a black widow spider in it.


Her mother died of leukemia at the age of 31, leaving behind seven children, ages five months to thirteen years. She was the middle child. Her father did not remarry until all of his children were grown.


Her first published work was In Memoriam, a poem she wrote at age seventeen in the memory of a classmate who died from cancer.


 She married young and, as the mother to three children, ages one, three, and five, enrolled at the University of South Carolina. Her first studies were by correspondence courses, because she  lacked transportation and could not afford a baby sitter. After she completed a year’s worth of courses, which was the maximum the university allowed by correspondence, she attended night school while her husband baby sat.  After the death of her only daughter from encephalitis, she attended the university full time in order to keep her mind occupied. In total, it took her nine and one-half years to earn her BA in Education.


After divorcing her first husband, as a single parent and middle-school teacher she adopted a third son. She also earned her MAT in Geography by taking classes at night, weekends, and summers. During this time she wrote the history-geography book entitled West Columbia, USA. Plus, she proudly wrote the humorous short story My Pop Was My Mom, a tribute to her father, which was published in The State Magazine shortly before his death in 1986. She later  continued post master's studies at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina to earn certification in elementary school guidance counseling.

Some of her writing talents were used to create programs for the school system. She won statewide recognition as a middle-school teacher for developing and implementing a Conservation Education teaching unit. Later, as a guidance counselor, she won statewide recognition for developing and implementing a Character Education Word-of-the-Month program, which was adopted by other schools in her state.


She has also written numerous articles that have been published in a half dozen newspapers. At age 75, she wrote both her debut novel and the screenplay, Where’s Stephanie?


She credits her father, Dr. Bert Bierer, for inspiring her to write, encouraging her to write at a level where the average person can easily understand the messages being conveyed.  He authored a number of books, including American Veterinary History, Discovering South Carolina, South Carolina Indian Lore, and Indians and Artifacts in the Southeast.


She was also strongly influenced by Mark Weston, Playwright, at the Screen Actors Guild Conservatory in New York City who advised her to write with feelings. He said, "If you feel it, your readers will too." In his youth, Mark was the original Bryll Cream man in television commercials.


As a retired educator, she lives a full life with her awesome husband of thirty-nine years. They enjoy traveling, golfing, and boating. Marrying him gave her the added bonus of another daughter and son. Together they have five children, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.


After retiring, Jody studied to become a volunteer Clemson Master Gardener. She enjoys gardening, specializing in butterfly gardening and growing roses, irises, and daylilys. All of the flowers pictured on her webpage were grown by her in her garden. She is also a birder, specializing in eastern bluebirds.


At age 75, she wrote the screenplay Where's Stephanie?and her first novel Where's Stephanie? was published.  A year later she became a movie producer working in every aspect of film making, except for rolling the camera. Now at age 79, as a screenwriter, her amazing adoption story has already won six top awards at film festivals this year, including the Platinum Remi Award at the 52nd  annual Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, which is the longest running film festival in the world and the oldest international film festival in North America. Also among her awards was Best Feature Screenplay at the Twister Alley International Film Festival in Oklahoma.


More photos of her family and friends are on Facebook.