Jean Howard (Peggy Jean Gay) was born in February 1929 and raised in Wichita, Kansas. She was adopted as a baby by Margaret Simpson Gay, an industrious woman ahead of her time, who had 3 grown children: Neil, Marie, and Hammond Simpson. As a small girl, Jean would accompany Margaret to numerous small towns around Kansas and Oklahoma where she would meet and play with local children while Margaret leased land, hired crews, and drilled for oil. Jean was close to her cousin Janie (Mary Jane) who was about the same age, more like sisters than cousins.
Jean graduated from Wichita East High School in 1946. She had her first job at age 12 as a car-hop. During high school she loved to go to the Bamboola Club after school and dance the Lindy Hop and other popular dances of the day, have a soda, and teach dance lessons to other kids.
After high school, Jean attended University of Wichita (now Wichita State) for 2 years, where she was a member of the Epsilon Kappa Rho Sorority, and part of the Homecoming Court. She then married a World War II veteran who became an Air Force Officer, and was a military spouse for nearly 3 decades. During those years she volunteered with the Air Force Family Service, helped raise two of her cousins (Marsha and Dawn) for several years, was a Girl Scout Troop Leader, enjoyed horseback riding, and became Mom to a son (Rick) and a daughter (Jane). She also returned to school in Alaska while stationed there, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha after the family moved to Papillion, NE in 1966.
Jean became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the early 1970’s, and was one of only three women who were CPA’s in the state of Nebraska at that time. She worked for Dutton and Associates, PC for many years before retiring in her 70s. During her professional career she helped start local chapters of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants (AWSCPA), and the American Society of Women Accountants (ASWA). She was also a founder of the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN), taught classes for the Small Business Administration (SBA) and was a volunteer Board Member of the SAC Federal Credit Union (now Cobalt Credit Union) for nearly 40 years. She also very much enjoyed friends made in Connections, a networking group in which she participated for many years.
Jean enjoyed taking her children and grandchildren to professional conferences around the United States and Canada so they could learn about and enjoy new places. She loved providing educational opportunities for young people.
Jean was loved and admired by many. She was Mom, Grandma, Aunt, mentor, friend, and stand-in Grandma.
Jean is survived by her son Rick (Theresa), daughter Jane, grandchildren Mike, Kat, Joe (Hannah) and Thomas, and cousins Marsha and Dawn, who were like nieces to her, and many dear friends.