Legacy and Jumping-Jacks in Monett

Friday, November 25, 2011

The passing of Jerry McCaffrey this week reminds us to be thankful for the army of people who provided America with Jumping-Jacks shoes, Monett's first manufacturing export of national and international significance.

Few small towns can boast of the local product known for more than 50 years as a standard of excellence. Jumping-Jacks shoes were loved by those who wore them and those who made them. The work force in Monett was the envy of garment makers for their skill and production capacity.

McCaffrey was one of many in the Jumping-Jacks organization, but an important one. In his 50-year career with the company, he rose to chief executive officer, playing a key role through the transition years when the shoe maker went through different owners while fighting to preserve local jobs.

Jumping-Jacks represented one of Monett's great success stories with a sad ending, fading away, like other American garment makers, in the pressure of cheaper overseas imports. Like the railroad, market and technology changes altered the landscape and took away a major local employer.

McCaffrey not only fought the good fight. Monettans expected service from their captains of industry. McCaffrey did his part, serving for years on the Monett Chamber of Commerce board of directors, three terms on the R-1 Board of Education and decades on the UMB Bank board.

Often these jobs provide no glamour or reward. Those who do them offer their best ideas for dealing with the crisis of the hour. McCaffrey was there, pitching in. His often gruff manner may have disguised his true feelings, but when it came to backing service projects and his people, it was widely recognized you could count on Jerry McCaffrey.

Monettans have had big expectations for their leaders. Remarkably, those who have come to Monett and those raised here converged to a mutual set of values. Jerry McCaffrey was one of many who understood the Monett spirit of giving, and believing that giving is rewarded by giving in return.

McCaffrey played a big part in the glue that made Jumping-Jacks a family. Believing in the mission and each other was a company goal and a community goal. One fed off the other. The idea beats the heart of Monett to this day.

We salute Jerry McCaffrey for the part he played. The legacy of excellence and public service are trademarks Monett loves to wear, and can claim because of people like him.