Janell Carson, 73, of rural Parsons died Saturday, July 25, 2020, at her home.
She was born on May 3, 1947, in Killeen, Texas, to Meade T. and Helen (Emert) Smith. As a child, she moved with her family to Fredonia, where she grew up and attended schools.
Janell was a gifted athlete in track and field. In her teens, she held several Junior Olympics records, jumping over 19 feet in the long jump and running just over nine seconds in the 70-yard hurdles. Janell represented the United States in the 400-meter dash at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo as a 17-year-old junior in high school. She was a two-time National AAU 440-yard and 400-meter champion in 1964 and 1965. Janell was a qualifier for the 1963 Pan American Games at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the 80-meter hurdles. Her time of 52.3 seconds in the 400 meters still ranks as the best-ever by a high school age girl in Kansas. She was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior on May 10, 1965. She also set the world record for the indoor 400 meters in 1965.
Following graduation from high school in 1965, she attended Emporia State University and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She then attended Pittsburg State University and earned a master’s degree in teaching. Throughout her career as an elementary teacher, she taught in Arkansas City, Springfield, Missouri, St. Paul, Galesburg and Erie. In addition, she taught in Parsons at Guthridge and Garfield elementary schools.
Mrs. Carson was an active member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the Altar Society. She enjoyed attending her children and grandchildren’s sporting events. She was a member of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Emporia State University Hall of Honor.
On Aug. 8, 1970, she and John Michael “Mike” Carson were married at the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Parsons. He survives of the home.
Other survivors include three sons, Brian Carson and his wife, Donya, of Columbus, Ohio, Scott Carson and his wife, Tiffany, of Iola and Tim Carson and his wife, Autumn, of Pittsburg; 10 grandchildren, River, Aspen, Chandler, Tristan, Ellie, Landon, Cortland, Grace, Gavin and Jackson; two great-grandchildren, Jace and Maya; and a brother, Meade Smith of Fredonia.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
The funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. The rosary will be prayed at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the church. The family will receive friends in the parish hall following the rosary at 7:30 p.m.
Memorials are suggested to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Neosho Township Fire Department, Fredonia Education Foundation or the St. Mary’s-Colgan endowment fund and may be left at or mailed to Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, KS 67357.
Online condolences may be left at www.forbeshoffman.com.