Jean Alice Crafton was an iconic figure in St. James, Missouri for nearly 90 years before she passed away at 88 on October 31, 2023. Her life of service to family, community, and education will leave an indelible imprint on those she touched throughout their journeys together.
Jean Smallwood was born January 6, 1935 in Missouri to Charles Smallwood Sr. and Alice Burton Smallwood and spent her early years being raised within a household that fostered hard work, community ties, and education; setting her on her path toward commitments both educational and familial throughout her lifetime.
Jean was profoundly transformed by her marriage to Jack Crafton on August 18th 1956 in Rosati Missouri and their subsequent journey together, beginning a life filled with shared values and dreams, unwavering support, love and commitment for one another.
Jean’s legacy will live on through her daughters, Jennifer Thompson and Janet Creek, their families and her beloved grandchildren, including sister-in-law Marilyn Schwartze who she considered part of her extended family. Jean truly treasured each member of her family with equal care that she offered her students.
Educator at Heart
Jean was driven by her love of education to overcome the challenges of her time. She attended Webster College, Mizzou and Drury College on a path towards attaining her teaching degree; beginning her career at rural schools around Rolla before flourishing at St. James Schools from 1960-1966 and later once more after taking time off for child rearing before returning full time until finally retiring in 1996.
Jean’s dedication to education extended far beyond classroom walls. She was an active member of Missouri State Teachers Association and contributed her insights and advocacy in shaping its dynamic educational landscape. Her influence remains an example of her devotion to lifelong learning and community service.
Farm Life and Family
Jean’s love for her family was equalled only by her appreciation of farm life’s simplicity and richness. Her home served as the hub of family gatherings where generations came together to create lasting memories. She enthusiastically encouraged all of her children’s interests from sports to arts – epitomizing an encouraging yet supportive parent figure.
Jean’s life was not without its trials and tribulations, including her beloved husband Jack passing in 2019 and Michael in 1994 as well as both parents and brothers passing. Yet her resilience and strength was evident through her continued dedication to family, community and country.
Jean’s impact on education in St. James and Missouri cannot be overstated. Her approach was marked by traditional values combined with innovative methods, making her a beloved teacher among students. Known for connecting with each student individually and inspiring a life-long love for learning that many carried with them into adulthood, Jean left an indelible mark behind.
Community Pillar Jean was more than just an educator; she was also a beloved figure within St. James community due to her active participation in community initiatives and her dedication to education. Known for her kindness and wisdom as well as unfaltering dedication towards bettering those around her, Jean made an immeasurable impactful impression upon those she encountered every day.
Legacy and Inspiration
Jean Alice Crafton left behind an inspirational legacy and example to all who knew her. Her unwavering dedication to family, students, and community set an amazing example for living a full and meaningful life – one which will continue to serve as a source of guidance to future generations in St. James and beyond.
Jean Alice Crafton may have completed her journey, yet the stories and lessons from her life will always live on through those she touched and the love she shared. Her life was one filled with devotion, compassion and an unfaltering spirit of giving that has served to inspire many in living lives filled with purpose and passion like hers. Let her memory always remain as a beacon of love and learning illuminating our path ahead; may she rest in eternal peace.