ST. LOUIS — The founder and president of a longtime St. Louis nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the families of homicide victims has died, according to a family member.
Jeanette Culpepper, 73, died on Sunday, according to her granddaughter, Asia Johnson, who also worked with the organization founded by her grandmother, Families Advocating Safe Streets.
Culpepper started annual New Year’s Eves after having one for his own son, Curtis Johnson Jr., who was Asia Johnson’s father. He was killed aged 22 in 1991. At the time, Culpepper said she wanted more attention about her son’s murder and was disappointed in the lack of media attention.
The events brought together families, members of the public and elected leaders. On New Year’s Eve 2020, then-Mayor Lyda Krewson participated, noting the high number of officials present. That year, the city’s homicide rate was the highest in 50 years.
In preparation for the vigils, Culpepper would send letters to hundreds of families of homicide victims in St. Louis and St. Louis County for the annual candlelight event held at the Williams Temple Church of God on Union Boulevard.
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“It was his passion. He was a very honorable and respectable person,” Johnson said. “Some people die at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year, they are no longer remembered. It’s like it’s temporary, but my grandma let those families know that someone cared.
St. Louis Aldermanic President Lewis Reed tweeted Tuesday that Culpepper will be missed. “She was a strong advocate for our youth, ending gun violence and keeping our streets safe,” he added in the tweet.
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mrs. Jeanette Culpepper. She was a strong advocate for our youth, ending gun violence and keeping our streets safe. She will be sincerely missed.
May she rest in peace 🙏🏿
— Lewis E. Reed (@LewisReedSTL) October 18, 2021
Culpepper was a widow. She had four sons and a daughter, who was a granddaughter Culpepper adopted a few years ago, Johnson said.
A balloon release is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at 5807 Page Boulevard in St. Louis, a building where a Culpepper painting is displayed in his honor, Johnson said.