This program tells the story of Randall Smith Jessee (1914–1976). Born in a small, rural Missouri town near Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Jessee became a pioneer in radio and television in the 1930s and 40s, and the first television announcer and newsman in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1949. A friend and confidant to many including former President Harry Truman and artist, Thomas Hart Benton, he left television in 1959, for public service. Employed by the United States Information Agency (USIA), Jessee served overseas at the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Consul to Western Australia, in Perth, Australia. Working in Washington DC, for the USIA’s Voice of America, Jessee was a member of the White House Press Corps under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Eventually, public service brought him back to his Missouri roots in 1969 as Director of Public Affairs, for the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency. After retiring in 1975, Jessee continued his public service, spending the last months of his life campaigning and winning the office of Clay County Commissioner of the Eastern District.
Randall Jessee’s story is presented by two of his children, Randall Boone Jessee and Jana Jessee Becker. Both are retired and live in the Kansas City area. Randall retired from a career in customer service with TWA/ American Airlines, and Jana from Government service with the General Services Administration. They enjoy telling their father’s story!