Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Obituary: Victim of JJ’s blast was alumna known for serving others

megan cramer
Megan Cramer
Photo Credit: facebook.com

As firefighters scoured through remains of the explosion and four-alarm fire that broke out at a County Club Plaza-area restaurant on Tuesday, Feb. 19, one Springfield family anxiously awaited details on their daughter’s whereabouts.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the body of Megan Cramer, a UMKC School of Law alumna and server at JJ’s Restaurant, was found among the rubble.

Cramer moved to Kansas City in 1987 to complete her law degree, pursuing a passion for social justice.

“Megan was smart, tenacious, and proud— a woman who lived her values,” said Dr. Jim Wanser, Director of Testing Services. “She had a direct communication style that reflected her strength and determination as a student leader.”

In 1990, Cramer and four other UMKC alumni created the first long-standing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization on campus, the Gay and Lesbian Student Alliance (GLSA).

A previous group, The Gay Student Union, was organized on campus in 1970 but was not officially recognized until 1978 after a U.S. Court of Appeals lawsuit the previous year, Gay Lib. et al, v. University of Missouri.

The Gay Student Union disbanded in 1979.

GLSA, cofounded by Cramer, Jim Giles, Reese Isbell and Julie Riddle, helped LGBT students gain traction on campus and eventually led to the creation of Pride Alliance.

In a September 1990 article written in The University News, Cramer voiced her hopes that the organization would impact UMKC students.

“”There is a significant gay population on this campus,’” Cramer is quoted in a September 1990 University News article. “’The gay students need an organization in which they can network and receive support.’”

Wanser served as faculty adviser to GLSA, working closely with Cramer and the other students to ensure the group’s continuity.

“They were a great group of students who were friends, worked very well together and gave new life to the support and inclusion of gay and lesbian students on campus,” he said. “They were a brave group of students for their time here at UMKC and provided the Roze Brooks News Editor

As firefighters scoured through remains of the explosion and four-alarm fire that broke out at a County Club Plaza-area restaurant on Tuesday, Feb. 19, one Springfield family anxiously awaited details on their daughter’s whereabouts.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the body of Megan Cramer, a UMKC School of Law alumna and server at JJ’s Restaurant, was found among the rubble.

Cramer moved to Kansas City in 1987 to complete her law degree, pursuing a passion for social justice.

“Megan was smart, tenacious, and proud— a woman who lived her values,” said Dr. Jim Wanser, Director of Testing Services. “She had a direct communication style that reflected her strength and determination as a student leader.”

In 1990, Cramer and four other UMKC alumni created the first long-standing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization on campus, the Gay and Lesbian Student Alliance (GLSA).

A previous group, The Gay Student Union, was organized on campus in 1970 but was not officially recognized until 1978 after a U.S. Court of Appeals lawsuit the previous year, Gay Lib. et al, v. University of Missouri.

The Gay Student Union disbanded in 1979.

GLSA, co-founded by Cramer, Jim Giles, Reese Isbell and Julie Riddle, helped LGBT students gain traction on campus and eventually led to the creation of Pride Alliance.

In a September 1990 article written in The University News, Cramer voiced her hopes that the organization would impact UMKC students.

“”There is a significant gay population on this campus,’” Cramer is quoted in a September 1990 University News article. “’The gay students need an organization in which they can network and receive support.’”

Wanser served as faculty adviser to GLSA, working closely with Cramer and the other students to ensure the group’s continuity.

“They were a great group of students who were friends, worked very well together and gave new life to the support and inclusion of gay and lesbian students on campus,” he said. “They were a brave group of students for their time here at UMKC and provided the foundation for the Pride Alliance of today.”

Students in Pride Alliance expressed feelings of losing a legacy marker that none of them had the chance to know.

“She was interested in how the law could better serve those that were marginalized in our society,” Wanser said. “We are very fortunate that Megan chose UMKC for her education and for her leadership of gay and lesbian students. Her warm and generous smile will be missed by many.”

Co-founder Isbell and Tom Poe, UMKC professor of communication studies, expressed gratitude that coverage of Cramer’s death didn’t downplay her work with the LGBT community as an openly identifying lesbian.

“Megan was a few years older than the other three of us founding the initial UMKC GLSA from scratch, and so she was very helpful in guiding us toward our goals, Isbell said. “In writing bylaws together, organizing the first meetings of the group, creating budget plans, and basically beginning to figure out how to be openly LGBT together on campus— she basically helped change the Kansas City LGBT community, on campus but also throughout the city, for the better.”

Many knew Cramer from her time spent working at The Melting Pot on the Plaza, and she was equally praised as a server at JJ’s, where many regulars often requested her service or waited until her work shift to come in for a meal.

The family reported having spoken with her earlier Tuesday before she clocked in for her shift, but when coverage of the explosion flashed across the airwaves, the Cramer family hadn’t heard from their beloved aunt, sister and daughter.

A funeral service will be held in Cramer’s hometown of Springfield.

rbrooks@unews.com

 

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