JCMO leaders share their Thanksgiving memories and what the holiday means to them.

Lorelei SchwartzMy mother’s family was from New England. Her sister still lived there but would “snow bird” in Naples, Florida. My mother loved the beach and traveled to Florida as often as she could. When my children were about 1 and 3, my sister and I met my mother and her sister in Naples. Our family joined my aunt and all her friends for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner on a picnic table at the Bonita Public Beach. We traded our “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner, which included the silver, stemware, and the finest china we owned, for paper plates, plastic cups, and store-bought turkey. It’s one of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving!”

— Lorelei Schwartz, CPA at Schwartz & Lecure, member of JCPS Board of Education

Larry LinthacumThanksgiving has always been a reminder to me to be thankful for the blessings we have and the importance of family. I have wonderful memories of visiting my grandparents’ house and playing with my cousins. As I have gotten older and started a family of my own, I make sure to carry on that tradition, for myself and my kids, at my parents’ house and my wife’s parents’ house. Spending time with our family and being thankful for the many blessings we have is so important during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.”

— Larry Linthacum, Superintendent of Jefferson City Public Schools


Bailey ConradI have a lot of favorite Thanksgiving memories since I enjoy the holiday, but there is one that sticks out to me. Every year, both my mom’s and dad’s side of the family come to our house, so it gets crazy. Sometimes, my family and I come up with some ideas of activities to do that are out of the ordinary. Last year, we had the idea to act like we were cheerleaders and form a pyramid in my living room. I was on the top, and there were around nine other people forming the rest of the pyramid. It was super spontaneous and fun, and I hope we make it a tradition.”

— Bailey Conrad, Jefferson City High School student body president


Crystal TellmanI remember the whole family gathering at my grandparents’ houses. We have a really large family, so there were many cousins to play with, and this was the time of year when everyone came home. We would go to one Grandma’s house and eat and play until it was time to go to the next stop. The food was always excellent and abundant, not to mention that I am 100 percent sure my Grandma makes the best mashed potatoes in Missouri! Now my memories are of watching my kids doing the same things I did.  They get to hustle to multiple parties and see all their favorite people.”

— Crystal Tellman, Assistant VP, senior credit analyst at Hawthorn Bank, president of Downtown Jefferson City Board of Directors

Ann BaxMy most memorable Thanksgiving came just months after tragedy struck my family. In March 1991, my sister Teresa was driving home in a windstorm and a tree fell on her car. She was left paralyzed from the waist down – now in a wheelchair the rest of her life. Thanksgiving that year held a range of emotions. I was still overcome with sadness that Teresa had to endure such challenges as she worked towards recovery, but so happy she survived the accident and was getting stronger every day. Her courage and perseverance touched and inspired me, and it intensified my gratitude for the things that really matter in life– — the gift of each day, the gift of faith, and the gift of family.”

— Ann Bax, President/CPO at United Way of Central Missouri

Kevin RomeMy fondest Thanksgiving memories are at my grandmother’s home before she passed away. For me, Thanksgiving was time for family to gather, eat well, and socialize. We are a close-knit family, so we frequently interacted, but Thanksgiving was special. It was the time of year that we used the “good dishes” and real silverware, not the everyday items. What stood out to me the most was the different personalities of my various family members. My mom and grandmother would start preparing their dishes well in advance of the dinner; however, every Thanksgiving, we would be waiting for one or two dishes, or one or two dishes would not be prepared until after the meal was completed. As frustrating as those times seemed, I would give all that I have to bring back the family members who are no longer here just to have one more family Thanksgiving feast.”

— Dr. Kevin Rome, President of Lincoln University

Torey MuellerEvery Thanksgiving, my family and I drive down to Austin, Texas for the week to visit my cousins. There are so many fun and exciting memories that I’ve had with my cousins while I’m there, but my favorites are the ones when I wake up super early and help my aunt cook all day. Ever since I was little, I loved watching Food Channel, and my aunt was always happy to let me cook with her. My favorite thing we do is the gravy and turkey competition that my aunt and uncle have — we all judge at the end. I always helped make my aunt’s, but I secretly loved my uncle’s better. During the holidays, I love being around family and friends who care about me, eating great food, and making great memories!”

—    Torey Mueller, Helias Student Council president

Lori MassmanTo me, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have and to share with those who are less fortunate, whether it is donating food, serving a meal at a shelter, or inviting someone to share in your family’s Thanksgiving meal. The day is always spent with family, and before the meal we all gather around in a circle and express our thanks to God. The rest of the day is spent playing games, laughing together, and making memories.”

— Lori Massman, Employee services community development manager at Scholastic, member of JCPS Foundation Board of Directors, secretary of the United Way of Central Missouri Executive Board