Mary Jane Putnam
September 25, 1944 – March 25, 2020
Mary Jane was a rebel with many causes. When I first met Mary Jane she was a member of my mother’s kitchen band. She played a mean washboard! It wasn’t until she was a sophomore in high school that we met again in her dad’s hay loft in 1959. I found out later that she had told her friends that she was going to marry me someday.
Mary Jane questioned everything and was a constant student like her dad and sister. Her class prophecy for 20 years later was that she would be in the jungle rapidly firing questions at a rubber tree plant. On her 20th class reunion she was at a botanical garden in Denver questioning a botanist in front of all things a rubber tree plant!
Mary Jane taught kindergarten and 1st grade. She was very dedicated to the kids in her class and kept in touch with several of her students throughout their lives. She taught 1st grade in a low-income section of Topeka during a time of Martin Luther King’s assassination and had many sad stories of that time but was always dedicated to her students. Mary Jane started participating in children’s theatre with a troupe that put-on plays for every Shawnee Mission Elementary school plus anyone else that requested them. That group also performed at the Renaissance Festival.
She was a dedicated mother participating in every activity associated with child development including being a Den Mother, Room Mother, Bible School teacher and the art teacher at Village Presbyterian Church for several years. She became a very active member of Church of the Resurrection and completed all the Disciple classes and many other classes offered at the church. Mary Jane was always ready to paint or do ceramics with the grand kids and their friends. Wednesday was always special when Riene would come to paint with her and they could spend time talking and painting. They never ran out of things to paint or talk about.
Mary Jane loved arts and crafts so she went back to school at Johnson County Community College where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Commercial Art and Fine Art. She took over 120 hours including oil, watercolor, ceramics, bronze sculpture and took welding classes with the Burlington Northern Railroad. She enjoyed welding so much that she even asked for an electric arc welder for Christmas one year.
We did not end up getting Mary Jane the arc welder instead she got a kiln and fired many pieces including her “Plaza Pots”. She took many workshops in KC, Myrtle Beach, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, the Kansas Flint Hills and Lake of the Ozarks. When Mary Jane wasn’t doing art, working with the Clay Guild, the KC Arts Association or the Olathe Art groups she was golfing or playing tennis. She loved playing tennis and liked golf.
She also loved to be at the Lake of the Ozarks to swim, boat and entertain. She loved being with others maybe more than they know she was not always understood as well as she would have liked because she was more direct and offered her opinion when many others may have kept silent. As her lack of mobility increased along with her weight she became much more isolated from the friends she loved and the activities she loved but she never gave up thinking that one day she could get it all back if she could ever just lose weight and build up her strength.
Mary Jane believed there was always a way to accomplish your goals. She said it took time, determination and a good “can do” attitude. She could plan and make the plan work. The word “can’t” was not in her vocabulary.
Mary Jane is survived by her loving husband Jerry W. Putnam and Doodle, the Schnoodle. Her sons and family Robert Lancer Putnam, and partner Tom Meyer, Barton W Putnam and wife Anne, three grandchildren Max, Liz and Sadie Putnam. Her sister Dr. Janet Mills Peterson, cousins Dan and Becky Schuppan, also Bette Cromer, Dr. Sharon Furby, Linda Carlson and Shirley Conner and Cousin Donavan Davis.
Mary Jane was loved and will be greatly missed.
She was a force and an example always do you best, never give up and don’t let the nay-sayer stand in your way. If you set a goal and reach it smile, set 2 new higher goals and get to work.
Mary Jane we love you and hope you are waiting to guide us when our time comes to be together again.
Celebration of Life Gathering
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Putnam Landscape and Design
Mary Jane Putnam
April 11, 2020
I know this may be strange because I didn’t know Mary Jane although I thought I did when I saw the announcement in the Columbia Daily Tribune. I must tell you, you have memorialized her with your storytelling in the most loving, uplifting way possible. Your family was so blessed to have Mary Jane as your wife and mother. I have no doubt she is continuing her vigilance and love for you all from her open window up above. My warmest thoughts and prayers are with you all.
March 31, 2020
As a close friend of Mary Jane's sister, Janet, I remember Mary Jane so fondly. She was always kind, caring and a good listener. The world has lost a beautiful person, My deepest sympathy to the entire family.
March 28, 2020
Mary Jane and Jerry became our family too when their son, Bart, married our daughter, Anne. Not only did we share grandchildren, we shared many family events and celebrations and got to know each other very well. She passed on her enthusiasm and creativity to Max, Liz, and Sadie. We will miss her.