Molly Jean Clemons, 75, of Independence, MO died unexpectedly Sept 29, 2022, at Centerpoint Hospital in Independence. She was born Aug. 1, 1947, the daughter of Eugene and Virginia (Mitchell) Kuhlemeyer in Freeport, IL. She grew up in Pearl City, IL, and graduated from Pearl City High School. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a Master of Science degree in Education, both from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. She began her professional career in print and broadcast journalism.
Molly spent most of her career in education, beginning as a journalism teacher and head of the English Department at Dekalb. She married Ron Clemons on April 27, 1982, and moved to Independence. Molly taught English and journalism at Blue Springs High School for one year, then became assistant principal at Palmer Junior High, later moving to Truman High School for 10 years, before becoming director of secondary education and emergency preparedness for the Independence School District. After her retirement, she became director of the district’s George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts. At the time of her death, she was co-executive director of Music/Arts Institute, a position she shared with her husband, Ron.
Molly was the youngest national president of the Journalism Education Association, later serving for 15 years as editor of Communication: Journalism Education Today, the organization’s national magazine. She also received the prestigious Carl Towley Award from the organization and the Pioneer Award from the National Scholastic Press Association. She received the Outstanding Principal’s Award from the Missouri Journalism Education Association. She has spoken at more than 100 journalism conferences and has authored many magazine articles throughout the years.
Molly is past president of the Independence Junior Service League and Jackson County Youth Court. For many years she served on the Truman Awards Commission. Molly and her husband were named Independence Citizens of the Year in 2015 and in 2020 the Independence Examiner named her the Examiner’s “Outstanding Woman the Year” for Eastern Jackson County.
Molly grew up as a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pearl City but became part of the Gathering Baptist Church in Independence, where she was on the welcoming committee.
Molly was a world traveler to most European countries and even visited Russia. She especially loved Hawaii, where she kissed her first dolphin on one of her birthdays. Molly also enjoyed her cruise with Ron to Bermuda, but they mostly loved their many trips to New York to see Broadway plays throughout the years. She loved shopping in New York or anywhere because she thought of shopping as her hobby. She and Ron have also been long-time season ticket holders for the Missouri Mavericks and Kansas City Comets.
A visitation will be held for Molly on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 11am at The Gathering Baptist Church located at 4505 S Noland Rd, Independence, MO 64055, or 816.373.0106 . The funeral will follow at 2 pm. All are welcome. Her burial will take place immediately following at Mount Washington Cemetery.
Molly’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to one of the following organizations near and dear to her heart: Music/Arts Institute (MAI), www.musicartsinstitute.org, 1010 S. Pearl Street, Independence, MO 64050 or 816.836.1998 - or - The Independence School District Foundation, www.ourisdf.org, 201 N. Forest Ave, Independence, MO 64050, or 816-521-5300.
Molly is survived by her husband, Ron, and their special puppy, Zoey. She is also survived by her nieces, Jessica Roe (Gates) of Centennial, CO, Ann Marie Clark of Denver, CO, Erin Zahradka (Paul) of Boulder, CO, her brother-in-law, Cliff Clark of Centennial, CO, and her cousins on her mother’s side all originally from her hometown of Pearl City, who include Lori Kempel (Joel), Luann Byers (Perry), Brad Mitchell (Deb), Martha Mitchell, Terri Mitchell (predeceased in death by husband Mark), Doug Mitchell (Bonnie) and their children and grandchildren; as well as cousins on her father’s side including Doris Wait of Des Moines, IA (Dave), Joe Genre of Gold Beach, OR (Rochelle). Other survivors include Ron’s five nephews and two nieces, plus their 25 great nephews and nieces, all of whom were special to her. Molly was preceded in death by her mother Virginia Kuhlemeyer, her father Eugene Kuhlemeyer, and younger sister, Mary Kuhlemeyer Clark.