Jean Lucille (Kendig) Charles, 105, of Republic, Kan., died Monday, March 8, 2021, at Parkview Haven Nursing Home in Deshler, Neb.
Jean was born January 17, 1916 in Osborne, Kan. She was the first of two children born to Alvin and Angie Kendig. She graduated from Osborne High School in 1933, and attended Fort Hays State College for two years, earning a teaching certificate.
She was teaching kindergarten in Osborne in 1937 when she met Norman Shirley, whom she married in 1938. They moved to different states several times in several months for his work in the oil industry. Norman died in a swimming accident in 1939, and Jean returned to Osborne, taking a job at the U.S. Farm Security Administration office there.
Jean met Don Charles as he was passing through Osborne in 1940 and he stopped to visit with a mutual friend. Don stayed in Osborne that night due to a blizzard, and he and Jean hit it off instantly. They were married May 14, 1941, in Manhattan, Kan., where Don had attended school at Kansas State University, and Jean moved with Don to Republic, and Valley Point Farms, which had been in Don’s family since 1868.
Don and Jean raised three children on the farm, where Jean helped instill a love of reading, music, cooking and K-State. They set examples as community leaders by, among other things, founding the Republic Pioneers 4-H chapter. Jean also regularly entertained friends in her bridge club, and they were members of the Elks, as well as the Belleville (Kan.) Country Club.
Jean returned to teaching elementary school after her children were older in community schools in Hardy, Republic, Sherdahl, Scandia, and Webber, and former students kept in touch with her frequently for years after. Upon retirement, they became doting and loving grandparents to five grandchildren, spending time with them and helping the children develop a deep appreciation for the farm and its history. Don and Jean also spent more than 20 years wintering (and golfing), in Texas, then Arizona. They spent more than 60 years together before Don’s death in 2002.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents, Alvin and Angie Kendig, her first husband, Norman Shirley, her brother, Warren Kendig, her husband, Donald Charles, a son, Michael Charles, a daughter, Nancy (Charles) Gabriel, and a grandson, Evan Charles.
She is survived by her son, John Charles of Republic, Kan., granddaughter Christie (Petersen) Kairos (husband Sunny) of Portland, Ore., grandson Dane Petersen (wife Jill Nienhiser) of Kansas City, Mo., grandson Hayes Charles (wife Keri) of Coon Rapids, Iowa, granddaughter Hayley Charles of Denver, Colo., and four great-grandchildren.
Due to COVID concerns, the family plans to hold a memorial service at a later date.
Memorials may be made in Jean’s name to the United Methodist Church of Republic and the Republic Pioneers 4-H club through Megrue-Price Funeral Home in Superior, Neb.
Posted online on March 13, 2021