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Jean Elizabeth Phillabaum

COLUMBIA — Jean Elizabeth Phillabaum Ponder was a devoted Methodist, a medical nursing aide during World War II, a League of Women Voters activist, a loving mother of four and grandmother of six.

She died on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, at The Bluffs in Columbia. She was 88.

"She enjoyed everything about life and being around people," Diana Life, Ponder's daughter, of Tucson, Ariz., said. "She never wanted to leave an event; she always wanted to be the last one to leave."

Mrs. Ponder was born on March 23, 1922, in Greentree, Pa., the second of four children of William Elsie and Leila Maude Phillabaum. After high school, Mrs. Ponder was a file clerk at ALCOA, then she joined the Women's Army Corps where she became a medical nursing aide during World War II.

At the end of the war, she met Claude L. Ponder, and they were married within five weeks.

Mrs. Ponder began her college education at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau but didn't finish until she had raised her children. She graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville.

Mrs. Ponder was active in the League of Women Voters. She also enjoyed the garden club and genealogy, and she raised money for heart disease research. She is remembered for her humor, her upbeat, enthusiastic spirit and her strong Christian beliefs.

Mrs. Ponder and her husband founded the long-lived "Ponderers Sunday School Class" at Community United Methodist Church in Columbia and were honored by the class with the purchase of a personal energy transportation vehicle. Mrs. Ponder also served as the church membership secretary.

Mrs. Ponder also belonged to Chapter LM, PEO, where she served as president for two years. Her PEO sisters visited and wrote throughout the years.

A devoted Christian, Mrs. Ponder served as secretary to the district superintendent of the Hannibal-Kirksville district of the United Methodist Church for years. She also worked with USDA Soil Conservation Service and Farm Bureau.

"What she loved most was tending to her children's activities," Life said. "All of us were involved in high school organizations, and she loved attending them and being a part of everything."

Other survivors include daughters Patsy Ponder Dalton of Columbia, Virginia Ponder of Columbia and the Rev. Jodi Ponder-Williams of Kansas City; and six grandchildren.

Mrs. Ponder's husband and two sisters died earlier.

Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Community United Methodist Church, 2201 W. Broadway. Services will follow at 11 a.m. at the church with the Rev. Kevin Shelton officiating.

Memorial contributions can be made to Community United Methodist Church, 2201 W. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65203, to The Bluffs Auxiliary, 3105 Bluff Creek Drive, Columbia, MO 65201, or to Cottey College, 1000 W. Austin, Nevada, MO 64772.

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