Jo Elizabeth (Littell) Couchman, 90, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away peacefully on February 28, 2022 with her son and daughter by her side. Jo was born in Memphis, Tennessee during the Great Depression and grew up on a large farm in Heth, Arkansas. She graduated from Hughes High School in Hughes, Arkansas. While attending Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, she met the love of her life, Henry Couchman, the son of a Methodist minister. Jo graduated from Hendrix College in 1953 with a degree in education. In January 1954, Jo and Henry exchanged wedding vows at the Methodist Church in Blackfish Lake, Arkansas. They were married for 65 years, until Henry’s death in January 2019.
Shortly after they were married, Henry, who had been drafted into the Army, was sent overseas to Korea for 18 months. While Henry was away, Jo began her decades-long teaching career in Hughes, Arkansas. After Henry was discharged from the Army, the couple moved to San Antonio, Texas, where Henry had accepted a job with Metropolitan Life. In March 1958, their son, Henry Jr., was born. A few months later, Henry accepted a job in pharmaceutical sales with Eaton Laboratories, later Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals. The couple moved to Memphis, where in December 1959 their daughter, Carol Lynne, was born.
In 1965, Henry was promoted to district manager with Norwich Eaton, and the family moved to Overland Park, Kansas. Jo had a career as an elementary school teacher in the Shawnee Mission School District for 20 years. In the 1970s, Jo earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Kansas. She was ambitious and loved her career, particularly teaching reading skills.
In 1986, Henry was promoted to regional manager with Proctor & Gamble, which had acquired Norwich Eaton several years before, and Jo and he moved to Highland Village, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Jo taught elementary school and was a lead teacher in the Lewisville (Texas) Independent School District from 1986 until her retirement in 1994.
In 1997, Jo and Henry moved back to the Kansas City area to be near their two-year old grandson, Alex, who had been diagnosed with a developmental disability. Jo created a classroom for Alex in her home and spent countless hours with him, teaching him reading and other skills.
Jo and Henry were members of Indian Heights United Methodist Church for many years.
Jo’s hobbies and interests included reading, doing crafts, entertaining at home, traveling, shopping, and enjoying time with family and friends. She lived a very full life in her 90 years.
Jo was devoted to her husband, her children, her grandson, and her step-grandson, Daniel J. Barrera. She also touched the lives of many children who had the good fortune to be in one of her classrooms during her 35-year career as an elementary school teacher.
Jo was loving, kind, smart, strong, brave, beautiful inside and out, witty, and wise. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her, especially her children.
Jo was preceded in death by her husband, Henry E. Couchman; her parents, Rufus and Willie (Massena) Littell; and her brother, Austin E. Littell. She is survived by her son, Henry E. Couchman Jr., Kansas City, Kansas; her daughter, Carol Lynne Couchman, Phoenix, Arizona; her grandson, Alexander James Couchman, Olathe, Kansas; and her brother, Dr. R. Phil Littell, Palm Desert, California.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Lianne Littell Gayler Giving Page at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. The Giving Page supports research for a cure for Nut Carcinoma, an aggressive cancer, which in 2019 claimed the life of Jo’s niece, Lianne Littell Gayler, at age 48. You may make a donation at http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/LianneLittellGayler .