Jeanne Carpenter Morris Johnson passed away peacefully in her recent home in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Her keen intellect, wit, kindness, and generosity will be greatly missed by all those whose lives she touched.
She was born Feb. 26, 1929, to William Randolph Carpenter and Helen Williams Carpenter in Marion, Kansas.
Precious son Laurence “Ward” Simmons, beloved husband M. D. “Bud” Morris M.D., sweet grandson Ward William Cox, and both parents whom she loved so dearly predeceased Jeanne.
Left behind to cherish her memory are husband Andrew Johnson; children and their spouses Tom Morris and wife, Madilyn, of Topeka; Julie Morris Plourde and husband, Allan, of Richmond, Virginia; Nancy Morris Cox and husband, Clay, of Tucson, Arizona; and Anne Simmons Cox and husband, Tim, of Houston, Texas; 11 grandchildren, Alison McGrath Carson and husband, John; C.B. McGrath and wife, Kris; Barbara Morris; Erin Plourde Covington and husband, Erik; Lindsey Plourde Gianoukos and husband, Jason; Callie, Casey, and Claire Cox; Christopher Curtis and wife, Lauren; and Tim Cox Jr.; and 12 great-grandchildren, J.T. and Tucker Carson; Kate, Addison, and Hunter McGrath; Emma and Evan Covington; Sophia and Reid Gianoukos; Carlee Cox; and Charlotte and Samantha Cox.
She is also survived by her brother, William Randolph Carpenter, and his wife, Joan Sehdev M.D.; niece Carolyn Carpenter Frieschling and her husband, Michael; and nephews Randolph Carpenter and his wife, Julie, and Charlie Carpenter.
Jeanne had an idyllic childhood, growing up in Marion, graduating from Marion High School before attending Bradford College in Haverford, Massachusetts, where she was first in her class. She completed her education with a degree in English at the University of Kansas, where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and won the University French Scholar Award.
Despite her academic excellence as shown by her election to Phi Beta Kappa society, her father sent her to Chicago to study at Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School to ensure her ability to be an independent and modern young woman. Jeanne always said she never again wanted to experience the cold she felt blowing off Lake Michigan!
Jeanne’s devotion and involvement in First United Methodist Church of Topeka spanned more than a half a century. Her steadfast Christian faith was firm but gentle.
Her lifetime of volunteerism in community organizations included being the first woman elected to the board of directors of Stormont Vail Hospital (where she served as treasurer); Junior League of Topeka (Gold Rose recipient); Western Sorosis, president; Mulvane Art Center (docent); P.E.O. (president); Topeka Medical Auxiliary (Meals On Wheels delivery driver for many years); Gamma Phi Beta House Corporation; Topeka Zoo; Topeka Round Up Club; Garden Club; and Kansas Historical Society.
An endless scholar and seeker of knowledge, she continued to take every French class available at Washburn University. She was an avid Jayhawks basketball fan, being a season ticket holder for decades. In later years, she found the couch more comfortable than the bleachers and gathered with old friends to yell, cheer, and scold officials via TV.
Jeanne was a successful businesswoman, co-owning Morris-Simmons ladies shop for many years. She enjoyed gardening, reading, tennis, and golf. Jeanne was into health and fitness long before it was cool. She loved to start her day with a three-mile walk with her friends, the Knollwood Walkers.
On Wednesdays, short of nuclear war, she could always be found at French Club.
Jeanne was a tireless and energetic traveler whose curiosity took her around the globe many times with her precious grandchildren, creating priceless memories.
Jeanne was an accomplished horsewoman, beginning as a young girl and taking her last ride at 78 years young. She shared this love of horses with her children and grandchildren. She welcomed foreign exchange students into her home for years and treated them as her own.
Gracious, brilliant, beautiful, loving, patient, kind, thoughtful, humble, and endlessly generous with her time, efforts, and gifts, she will be in our hearts forever.
A service to celebrate Jeanne’s full and wonderful life will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 8, in the chapel at First United Methodist Church, 600 SW Topeka Blvd. A reception for friends and family will immediately follow the service. All are welcome to the graveside service, which will be at 3 p.m. at Marion Cemetery in Marion, Kansas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Topeka Community Foundation, 5431 SW 29th St, Ste 300, Topeka KS 66614, or First United Methodist Church, 600 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka KS 66603.
Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel is assisting the family. To leave a message for the family online, please visit www.PenwellGabelTopeka.com.