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Obituary: Jay Miles Karr

Obituary: Jay Miles Karr

April 17th, 2019 in Obituaries

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 worked for Better Homes and Gardens from 1950 to 1953, in advertising and as a writer and editor of the Book Division. From 1958-1960, he taught English and publications at the University of Idaho, Lewiston, and from 1960-1963, 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 scheduled. 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 at www.maupinfuneralhome.com.