ST. LOUIS — A public memorial service recently held at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis brought together hundreds to honor the life and legacy of former United States Senator and Missouri First Lady, Jean Carnahan. The event saw an overwhelming turnout, with many attendees spilling into the overflow areas, all gathered to pay their respects to a remarkable woman who left an indelible mark on the state and the nation.
Jean Carnahan’s son, Tom Carnahan, opened the service with heartfelt remarks, capturing the essence of his mother’s spirit. “We’re all terribly sad to say goodbye to this extraordinary woman,” he said. “But she wanted to be remembered as the woman who touched our lives, gave us inspiration and meaning, and consistently brought a smile to our faces.”
Jean Carnahan passed away on January 30th at the age of 90 after a brief illness. Reflecting on her life, family friend Lucy Sutcliffe shared, “She was certainly ready to go, and turning 90 was one of her big goals. But you know, she’ll always leave a hole.” Sutcliffe, who had known Jean since she was 16, praised her as a wonderful influence and someone who made the people around her better.
Tragic events and victories played a significant role in Jean Carnahan’s life’s connection to Missouri’s political past. Her husband, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, and their son, Randy, were tragically killed in a plane crash in 2000, just weeks before election day. Despite the loss, Mel Carnahan posthumously won the U.S. Senate seat, and Jean was appointed to fill her husband’s position, serving for two years until a special election was held.
During the memorial service, attendees remembered Jean Carnahan not just for her political contributions but also as a mother, grandmother, and the first woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate. She was also celebrated for her literary contributions, having authored seven published books. The Carnahan family expressed their gratitude to those from across Missouri who showed their love and support, with guests encouraged to take a book home in remembrance of Jean Carnahan.
As part of the service, Laura Simon from FOX 2 News highlighted Jean Carnahan’s life philosophy: “Jean encouraged us to eat well, travel far, and laugh often.” A private funeral will be held in Southeastern Missouri, where Jean will be laid to rest next to her husband and son.
In addition to reflecting on her profound impact on Missouri and the nation, the service included a moment of joyous remembrance with the playing of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” encapsulating the spirit of a woman who lived her life with grace, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to public service.
The Carnahan family has invited those wishing to honor Jean Carnahan’s legacy to donate to the Carnahan Award in lieu of flowers, furthering her commitment to public service and the betterment of Missouri.
Those who knew Jean Carnahan best and the many lives she touched are celebrating her legacy as the community looks back on the impact she had on Missouri.Missouri Mourns Loss of Jean Carnahan Her contributions will continue to be remembered as a beacon of service, courage, and unwavering dedication.