A Memorial Service for Sara Leona “Lea” Harper will be held at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, June 1, 2013, at the First Christian Church, West Plains, Missouri, under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.
Lea Harper was born September 16, 1923 to the late John Edgar and Ruth May Kelly Price of Lowry City, Missouri and died May 28, 2013 at her home in West Plains. Mrs. Harper received much of her elementary and secondary education in the Clinton, Missouri schools, graduating at the age of 15. She attended Southwest Baptist University and then began teaching near Lowry City in a one room school.
After her marriage to John Thompson Harper in 1945, both resumed their educations at Central Missouri State University, in Warrensburg, Missouri, where Mrs. Harper received her B.S. in Education, graduating Magna cum Laude. While her husband John went on to receive his degree at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mrs. Harper taught in the Sturgeon Missouri High School and was principal of the Sturgeon schools.
Following Mr. Harper’s graduation, John and Lea settled in West Plains, where they raised their family and where Mrs. Harper taught English in the West Plains Junior and Senior High Schools. She received her master’s degree in English Education in 1976 from Drury University. Mrs. Harper loved teaching in all grades, but especially dear to her were the 9th grade classes in West Plains.
Mrs. Harper was a member of the First Christian Church for over 60 years, serving as a Sunday school teacher in elementary and high school classes and helping to organize the Overcomers’ class in 1983, serving as its teacher for 30 years. Active in many community organizations, Mrs. Harper was a charter member of the West Plains Public Library Foundation, a charter member of PEO chapter MC, a member and past president of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, as well as Women’s Library Club. She was named an Outstanding Educator of America in 1974, was a member of Missouri Retired Teachers, Friends of Garnett Library, volunteered for 15 years at Ozarks Medical Center and volunteered in reading programs in the West Plains R-7 schools. Mrs. Harper valued most of all her participation in the Wednesday Share Group which began meeting each Wednesday starting in 1972.
She is survived by her children, Katy Harper Montgomery and husband, Herbert S. Montgomery, Lewisburg, West Virginia, John Kenneth Harper and wife, Janice Tucker Harper, Newark, Arkansas, James Thompson Harper and wife, Karen Masterson Harper, Willow Springs, Missouri; grandchildren, James Gray Montgomery, Lewisburg, West Virginia, John Harper Montgomery and wife, LeAnn Lane Montgomery, Salisbury, North Carolina, Joshua Kenneth Harper and wife, Paige Buchanan Harper, Little Rock, Arkansas, Jennifer Harper Cromer and husband, Matthew Craig Cromer, West Plains, Missouri, Price Masterson Harper, Springfield, Missouri, James Clinton Harper, Joplin, Missouri; great-grandson, John Solomon Montgomery, Salisbury, North Carolina; special nephews and nieces; and countless friends.
Her husband John, parents, two brothers, Carson and John William and six sisters, Ruth, Violet, Elsie, Janelle, Helen and Jeanie, precede her in death.