LANGDON, JEAN STEADMAN (1917 ~ 2017)
Jean Steadman Langdon passed away on March 28, 2017 eight weeks before her 100th birthday. She was born Jean Eleanor Steadman on June 25, 1917 on a farm in Beresford, SD to Floyd Delbert and Mabel Irene Steadman. She was the youngest of four children, Lois Berniece Steadman Lehman, Oliver William Steadman and La Verna Steadman Hansen. Jean's father feared that his children would not get a proper education in South Dakota so he left the farm to find a new life in Southern California. Two years later, after establishing a home in Los Angeles, he returned to Beresford to "fetch" his family. Traveling with only one possession, an old mantle clock wrapped in a blanket, the family boarded the train bound for Los Angeles in 1919.
Jean attended elementary school and Los Angeles Polytechnic High School in the Beverly Wilshire neighborhood near the University of Southern California. She was an excellent student and wanted to go away to college, so she went cross-town to UCLA where she graduated with a BBA (unusual for a woman at the time) in 1938 at the age of 21. She worked in marketing with one of the large department stores in Los Angeles.
In the 1930’s dust-bowl era, the many Texans and Oklahomans who came to California to do seasonal work left a negative impression on Jean. Thus, it was with reluctance that she accepted a blind date in 1941 with a slow-talking Texas FBI agent. Jim C. Langdon was working in Asuncion, Paraguay and was in California on a short leave. She either really liked him or thought he was geographically inconvenient enough that she could tolerate him for a while to further evaluate him. Jim returned to work in Paraguay and one year later in May 1942 they had their second date, but they had built their relationship through daily letters. As the war broke out Jim resigned from the FBI to enlist in the Navy. From Okinawa they continued their correspondence. Being the romantic he was, Jim proposed marriage by telephone in May 1943 after he had returned to Washington, D.C. They eloped and were married on June 1, 1943 in Salt Lake City, Utah, a midway meeting point between Washington and Los Angeles.
As WWII was winding down, Jim returned to California for a few months of Navy duty and in December 1945 Jim and Jean and their two month old son Jim Jr. left California for the small west Texas oilfield town of McCamey. Jim had been away from Texas for nearly 10 years in the FBI and Navy and his sole ambition was to bring his new California bride and young son back to Texas to raise a family. He opened a small law practice while Jean made the most of this small west Texas town. When later asked how she made the transition from sunny California to dusty west Texas she said; "I was so happy to spend the night under the same roof with Jim that where we lived didn't much matter." Jean plunged into family and civic activities in McCamey. Four more children were born over a 10 year period and family, Little League, Cub Scouts, ballet lessons, the McCamey Ladies Club and Garden Club, the West Texas Boys Ranch occupied her time and interest. As Jim's political career grew, Jean was always by his side. Among other things, she helped him remember the names of supporters when he ran for and won as District Judge. She continued this role throughout his career.
In 1958 the family moved to El Paso where Governor Allan Shivers appointed Jim to the Court of Civil Appeals. In the next five years she continued to nurture kids from elementary school to high school age. She served on the Texas Bar Auxiliary Board.
In 1963 Governor John Connally appointed Jim to The Texas Railroad Commission. Jean adapted to her new life in Austin and continued to support her husband’s political endeavors. She served as a member of the State Official Ladies Club and continued her Texas Bar Auxiliary Board work. In Austin, at 55, she took up golf and enjoyed playing with friends at the Austin Municipal Golf Course. In December, 1979 Jim died following a brief illness.
Jean decided to pick up stakes again and in 1981 moved nearer to family members in Granbury, TX. She became involved in historic preservation serving on the Depot Restoration Committee and focused on lowering her golf handicap. She was on the Board of Directors of the DeCordova Bend Estates where she was a member of the Ladies Golf Association and a proud member of the Bridge Club. She was also a member of the Granbury Opera Association.
South Dakota pioneer child, Los Angeles uptown girl, west Texas matriarch, exceptional political wife, Granbury Grande dame, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.
Her wit and sense of humor were interwoven into her spirit. On one occasion after someone asked about the wellbeing of a good, but cranky old friend that she had recently seen, Jean replied, “ Oh, you know, he’s about the same except more so!” She was loved by many friends in Granbury but because she was outliving them all, she was always cultivating new young 70 year olds to round out her group. When asked what she was most thankful for she quickly responded; "An interesting life and the very good health to enjoy it all!"
Preceding her in death were her husband, Judge Jim C. Langdon, her parents and siblings, and her son, John Oates Langdon and daughter in law, Margo Langdon. She is survived by her children: James C. Langdon Jr. (Sandy), Joe S. Langdon (Karen), Jerry J. Langdon (Mimi) and Julie Langdon Boxberger (Michael). She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Norma Langdon, and many beloved nieces and nephews. Grammy will be missed by her 12 adoring grandchildren: James Langdon (Sarah), David Langdon, Alison Langdon Vickers (Andrew), Kit Langdon (Brianne), Kelly Langdon (Kristyn), Jennifer Langdon Crownover (Joe), Carrie Langdon Murchison (Will), Travis Langdon (Mary), Lauren Langdon Sutherland (Scott), Jack Langdon, Teddy Boxberger and Nora Boxberger (fiancée Sean Burke). Her legacy lives on in her 12 great-grandchildren: Taylor and Garrett Crownover, Brody and Margo Murchison, Rayleigh, Harper and Kolt Langdon, Layla and Lexi Langdon, Sally and Kate Langdon, and Callum Sutherland. The family is grateful and appreciative for the wonderful care she received from Mary Hardee, Pam Knight, Julie Thompson, Brittany Wideman and Julie Baker and the staff at the Waterview Retirement Home in Granbury.
A celebration of Jean’s full and happy life will be held among friends at The Waterview on Sunday, April 2. A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 3 at 2:00 pm at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas 909 Navasota St., Austin, TX 78702, where she will be laid to rest next to her husband, Jim. A reception will follow the service and her grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, the family will honor Jean with donations to Friends of the Acton Nature Center, 6430 Smokey Hill Ct. Granbury, TX 76049 or the West Texas Boys Ranch 10223 Boys Ranch Road, San Angelo, TX 76904