Longtime Nebraska educator Jean Evelyn McKeown Rankin, 92 of Sidney, Nebraska died Wednesday afternoon, November 17, 2010 in Norman, Oklahoma following a lengthy illness.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M., Monday, November 22, 2010 in the Light Memorial Presbyterian Church in Sidney with Pastor Leon “Bud” Gillespie officiating. Burial will follow in the Greenwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers memorial are directed to the Jean Rankin Scholarship Fund.
Friends may call from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. Sunday at the Holechek Funeral Home in Sidney.
She was born February 3, 1918 to Roy and Mary (Stanley) McKeown at Cushing, Oklahoma. She graduated from Shamrock High School in Shamrock, Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma State Teachers College in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1936.
She was joined in marriage to Robert Edward Rankin on June 10, 1937 in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s commencement address, she began an eventful career in education that would span more than 70 years. A few years later she interrupted her teaching to join the research and development team at Douglas Aircraft during World War II to help develop a device to allow paratroopers a safe way to jump from C47s in advance of D Day on June 6, 1944.
Following the war she turned down an offer from Douglas to remain with their engineering research team, which allowed her to return to teaching and gave her more time with her growing family.
She taught for many years in the Sidney, Nebraska school system and helped establish an adult education program for Cheyenne County. While teaching in the public schools she received numerous state and local awards, and in 1998 was named the National Adult Basic Education Administrator of the year. These were a few of the highlights of her lengthy teaching career.
She also managed to author and see published several mathematical textbooks that helped teach in many areas of the country in addition to the thousands she personally helped achieve a better education in Cheyenne County and Sidney.
She was a member of the Light Memorial Presbyterian Church for over 50 years, taught Sunday school for over 20 years and held several offices and was a church elder.
She is survived by her sister Mary F. Allen of Nacogdoches, TX; six children: Nancy (Stewart) Brown of Denton, TX, Judy (Bob) Kuehn of Sidney, NE, David Rankin of Norman, OK, Robert (Marie) Rankin of Payne, OK, Chris (John) Gleason of Hutchinson, KS, and Debi (Mike) Biner of Missouri City, TX; 13 Grandchildren, 18 Great-grandchildren, 5 Great, great grandchildren as well as many nieces, nephews, family and a host of friends all of whom will sorely miss her.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, three sisters: Cassie, Wanda and Wanita and two grandchildren: Penny and Cheryl.
Holechek Funeral Home and Cremations in Sidney is serving the Rankin fami