Remembering Megan Cramer

Megan Cramer and her niece, August McGrail

Megan Cramer, the JJ’s restaurant employee still unaccounted for after Tuesday night’s deadly explosion and fire, started a support organization for gay and lesbian students in the early 1990s as a student at UMKC. She graduated with a law degree in 1994 and is remembered as a pioneer and leader in efforts that directly influenced UMKC’s direction as a campus that is welcoming to gay students.

According to The Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Fire Department notified Megan’s parents on Wednesday that they believed crews found her body, but are awaiting confirmation from medical records. (Note: Some Kansas City Star links are available only to subscribers.)

Megan, 46, grew up inSpringfield and received a bachelor’s degree from UMKC in 1990 and a law degree in 1994.

“Megan Jennifer Cramer—a poet, writer, attorney, social activist, and server—loved and was beloved by those with whom she met and interacted,” said a statement from her family. “She spent many hours as a law student at the Center for the Study of Capital Punishment working weekly pro bono while in law school to assist prisoners on death row at Potosi Federal Prison … Megan loved people, books, films, writing, reading and painting. She loved summer poetry and writing classes at the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, Provincetown, Mass., which the whole family attended for nearly a decade.”

 In 1990, Megan was one of the founders of The Gay & Lesbian Student Alliance at UMKC.

“We talked on the phone the day she died,” Megan’s mother, Genny Cramer, told the Associated Press. “She said she was doing well and was getting ready for work. She told us she loved us, and we told her we love her too. It is very sad. We’re going to miss her so much.”

JJ’s posted this remembrance on the restaurant’s Facebook page Thursday: “Megan was a sage. She was a mindful, caring, genuine being who looked everyone in the eye with a smile that would pierce your heart with the message that she was THERE. A great listener, friend and one of the best huggers you would ever meet. Megan Jennifer Cramer, in her short time at JJ’s impacted our crew and customers with the sort of energy everyone should strive for. She will be missed and always loved.”

 In another Facebook post, Star columnist Mary Sanchez wrote: “I vividly remember interviewing Megan Cramer back in 1990 to write this story. She was courageous, a strong voice for gay and lesbian people, especially the young people who merely wanted acceptance and respect.”

 More comments from The Star:

“She was politically motivated and outspoken,” said Joyce Pyle, aSpringfieldfamily friend who has known Cramer since childhood. “You had to like her for all of that. You did know how she felt about things.”

Family and friend describe her as funny with an understated wit. She had no children, but was extremely close to her niece and other family.

“Everybody loves her,” Josh Lehne, one of JJ’s bar managers, said just before the body was found Wednesday morning. “Nobody can say anything bad about her.”

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