NEA’s Jennifer Anne Putnam (née Sherwin)


Jennifer Anne Putnam (née Sherwin) lost her brave battle with cancer on Feb. 4, 2021. A lifelong union member, she started with UFCW Local 655 during her first job at Schnucks, was a member of SEIU Local 1 while working at the St. Louis Public Library and finally, a member for many years of the Missouri NEA.

She was the beloved wife of Robert Putnam, devoted mother of Stella and Emma and stepmother of Autumn Putnam. Cherished daughter of Linda Sherwin and Robert L. (Amy) Sherwin. Dear sister of Catherine and Christopher Sherwin, and the twin sister of Michael (Agatha) Sherwin. Aunt of Karl, Emily, and Kate Schwegmann, Elizabeth (Calvin) Koellner, and Westley Sherwin; great-aunt of Penelope and Theodore Koellner.

A lifelong St. Louisan, Sister Putnam was a graduate of St. Louis Public Schools, attending Classical Junior Academy (CJA) and Metro Academic and Classical High School. She then attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education-French. In 2020, she completed her Master of Arts degree in French at UMSL while she was undergoing treatment for stage IV cancer.

Sister Putnam was a dedicated educator and public servant who touched the lives of many. Her career began in the St. Louis Public Library system. She then taught French for 15 years at McCluer North High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

A dedicated Francophile, she loved learning French, studying French literature and culture, and traveling to France. She delighted in learning and sharing French language and culture with her students in the classroom and on the student trips she led to France.

Sister Putnam cared deeply about social justice, equity, and inclusion and proudly marched with her students in Ferguson just a month before her youngest daughter, Emma was born.

When she was diagnosed with advanced metastatic lung cancer just over a year ago, she made the difficult decision to retire from teaching in order to devote her time fully to the difficult treatment path that lay ahead. Although she fought valiantly and pursued numerous treatments, her cancer proved to be too advanced to overcome.

Private services for family and close friends will be held on Feb. 13 at Kutis Funeral Home-Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois Road. Memories and messages welcomed in the online guestbook, available at


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