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Jay Miles Karr

August 17, 1926 April 14, 2019
Jay Miles Karr
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Obituary for Jay Miles Karr

Jay Miles Karr, 92, of Fulton, died on a day of springtime snow, Sunday, April 14, 2019, at Presbyterian Manor. Born in Des Moines, Iowa on August 17, 1926, he was the only child of Jay Arthur and Ferne Karr, of Adel, Iowa.

In 1944, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, became a paratrooper and—as member of the 11th Airborne Division—was stationed on the island of Hokkaido during the post-war occupation of Japan.

In 1952, he married Phyllis Hammer. They were married for 66 years, and together raised three children: Jay Matthew, of Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Juliet, of Lawrence, Kansas; and April, of New York City.

Jay graduated from Drake University in 1950 with a BA degree in English and Journalism. Jay worked for Better Homes and Gardens from 1950 to 1953 in advertising and as a writer and editor of the Book Division. In 1956 he graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa with an M.F.A. degree. From 1956 to 1960 he taught English and Publications at the University of Idaho, Lewiston, and from 1960 to 1963 he was an associate professor of English and Journalism at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. In 1965, he moved to Fulton and taught at Westminster College until his retirement in 1996.

A playwright, novelist, painter, and jazz musician, Jay was passionate about art and literature. In 1981, he republished the out-of-print 1940 bestseller, King’s Row, written by former Fultonian Henry Bellamann. In his introduction to the book, Jay charted how the layout and the characters of the fictional town of King’s Row matched the real-life town of Fulton.

An award-winning playwright in retirement, his plays were produced in South Carolina and Missouri during the 1990s.

In 2005 he published his coming-of-age novel, Leaving the Home Front. Set in his home town, the book created an evocative portrait of small-town Iowa during the Depression and WWII, following the main character, Miles Morgan, from childhood to service in the paratroopers in WWII.

Also during these years, he took up painting, and over time his works transformed the beautiful home he shared with Phyllis into an art gallery. Jay was an avid tennis player and a storyteller extraordinaire.

Jay served for many years as an elder at the Fulton Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the boards of Ecumenical Ministries and the Human Development Corporation, and was a member of Optimist International.

Jay was preceded in death by his father and mother; he is survived by his wife and children. Juliet is married to Randall Fuller.

His family would like to thank the dedicated and loving people at Hospice Compassus for their care and support.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church in Fulton. The family will receive friends at the church from 1:00 p.m. until the time of service.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Our House, Westminster College, or the Fulton Public Library, c/o Maupin Funeral Home, 301 Douglas Boulevard, Fulton, MO 65251.

Condolences may be left for the family on this site.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Saturday

1

Jun

1:00 PM 6/1/2019 1:00:00 PM - 2:00 PM 6/1/2019 2:00:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church

718 Court Street
Fulton, MO 65251

First Presbyterian Church
718 Court Street Fulton 65251 MO
United States

Service

Saturday

1

Jun

2:00 PM 6/1/2019 2:00:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church

718 Court Street
Fulton, MO 65251

First Presbyterian Church
718 Court Street Fulton 65251 MO
United States
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