Cover photo for Cleter R. Christian's Obituary
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1944 Cleter R. Christian 2023

Cleter R. Christian

October 25, 1944 — August 31, 2023

Kansas City, Missouri

There are many trials that seem hard to bear at first which prove true blessings later when we see of what false materials they were first composed. 
–Stephen Vincent Benet

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.  
–Stephan Vincent Benet

Born October 25, 1944, Cleter Bell was the third daughter of Robbie and Zelma Rogers. She grew up exploring the woods of Center Point, Arkansas, her beloved hometown. Education was supremely important to her parents, and Cleter did not disappoint, graduating at the top of her class in 1962 from Childress School. After graduating from Childress, she enrolled at her esteemed alma mater, Philander Smith College, where she majored in Elementary Education and graduated in 1967.

Cleter became a teacher in the Kansas City Missouri School District, after being recruited by the school district prior to her graduating from Philander Smith. Cleter started her career at John J. Pershing Elementary where she nurtured young minds for over 20 years. She retired in 2000 at Kansas City School of the Arts teaching 6th grade Language Arts. Through her tenure as an educator, she was honored to make an impact on hundreds of children–even being nominated for Missouri Teacher of the Year. After retiring from the Kansas City Missouri School District, Cleter embarked on another career as a seasonal examiner with the IRS for many years.

Soon after moving to Kansas City, Missouri to start her teaching career, Cleter met her soulmate, Johnnie Christian. Cleter’s beauty and unique brand of independence captivated him; and on August 9,1970, they wed in a small ceremony in Cleter’s cherished Center Point. Family was everything to Cleter, and she and Johnnie began their family welcoming their first child, J. Carita, in 1972, followed by their second child in 1977, June Cara.

In 1980, Johnnie had a stroke. Without missing a beat, Cleter became the primary caregiver for her husband and their young daughters. Her quiet strength, fierce determination, and resolute faith guided her immediate family through emotionally perilous times. Like her parents, education was important to Cleter and she ensured that her two daughters graduated from college. True to her vows of "in sickness and in health," she cared for Johnnie until his death in September of 2012.

Cleter was a visionary and a woman ahead of her time.  She enjoyed gardening by “digging in the dirt” and honoring nature. She loved reading and continued to be an avid learner. In addition to a Bachelor degree, Cleter went on to earn Masters degrees from both Webster University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was a dynamo in the kitchen and loved finding recipes to share with her family. She was an attentive listener and trusted advisor. Her wit and humor were only matched by her intelligence. Above all, Cleter was kind, gracious, loyal, and loving…her empathic nature, awe-inspiring.

Also, her brisket was unmatched (she’d chuckle at this).

Cleter leaves behind her two daughters, J. Carita and June Cara Christian; her two surviving sisters, Pearl Lene Rogers Jordan and Mary Lee Rogers Grantham; her surviving nieces and nephews: James V. Jordan, Kevin Benet Robinson, Thomas Ray Robinson, Yolanda Girouard, Janice Cohens; and a host of great- and great-great nieces and nephews and dear friends.  She joins her husband of 42 years, Johnnie Christian, her sister Pearl (Booster) Robinson, her cousin Joe Scoggins, her parents Zelma and Robbie, her niece Vanessa Adeline Jordan, and her nephew Robbie Jordan.

A private memorial service will be held in the future for the family. In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family requests that you spread kindness, grace, love, and perhaps a seed or two in honor of Cleter.

Artist Listener

By Mary Rogers-Grantham
⎯for my sister, Cleter

We painted pictures in the soul of our stories.
Your brown eyes listened inside rhyming ears,
waiting for the storyline, the refrain, the effects,
like freehand brush strokes on an artist’s canvas 
bringing the mind’s eye to the soul of reality.
Your unspoken art of advice evolved through
your eyes from the canvas of your spirit.

We talked. You listened.

You were a good daughter, a good sister. 
You were a good wife, a good Mommy. 
You were a good aunt, a good relative.
You were a Godly being and a really good friend.
You were life in a place you were meant to be.
You were peace, like moonlight to a restless ocean.
You were light living inside many waterfalls.
You were the rainbow in many mangled midnights.
You were the flame when others could not burn. 

We talked. You listened.

We’ll miss your calming smile and medicinal humor. 
We’ll miss your quiet presence, the listener 
who comforted many who spoke their stories, 
the listener who didn’t dismiss anyone’s feelings. 
We’ll miss your patience as genuine as a tear 
caressing a cheek, as sincere as Daddy asking Mother 
to be his wife and as gentle as Mother’s hazel eyes
gently stroking our fears and then soaking them 
like the art of  sun showers and the gospel of blooms.

You are still our light, still shining in your absence, 
an artist and listener, our artist listener.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Cleter R. Christian, please visit our flower store.


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