John Putnam is a fourth generation Carthaginian, born in Carthage in 1946, the youngest of four sons of William C. and Joan Cargill Putnam. He spent his youth in Carthage, attending Mark Twain School, Carthage Junior High, Carthage High School, and earning the Eagle Scout Award before attending The Mercersburg Academy in PA for two years, graduating in 1964. At Mercersburg, John was named to the Prep School All-American Swim team, when his 200 yard freestyle relay team swam the eighth fastest time in the nation for prep-schools in 1964.
John then attended the University of Missouri, where he joined the fledgling Mizzou swim team. A “pioneer” of his sport, he made an immediate mark, setting Missouri records in every freestyle event as a freshman. By the time he completed his eligibility, he had set numerous MU pool and school records, as well as pool records at the Rockne Pool at Notre Dame, the University of Arkansas, and other schools around the midwest. His accomplishments include being the first, and at the time, only swimmer to letter four years. He was captain of his team every year, and was Most Valuable Swimmer, and High Point scorer all four years, setting MU records for points scored in a season and a career. He was the first Mizzou swimmer ever to score a point at the Big 8 Conference Championships, and the first to medal in three different individual events at the conference championships.
Putnam finished his career with eight medals in Big 8 Championships competition, and the holder of nine MU school records, five individual events and four relays. His accomplishments resulted is his election to the University of Missouri Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2013, making him one of the top athletes ever to attend the University. John graduated in 1969 with a B. A. in Business Administration.
After graduation, John worked for Campus Crusade for Christ, and other Christian related enterprises around the country before returning to Carthage in 1980 to work in the family wholesale building materials business, where he became General Manager of Four States Supply Company, until it was sold in 1995. Shortly thereafter, he entered graduate school and obtained a Masters Degree in Theological Studies.
An extremely patriotic American, John worked for years to uphold the principles of the Founding Fathers, and served more than 30 years on the Jasper County Republican Central Committee, being elected to many grassroots leadership positions including JCRCC Chairman, MO GOP State Committeeman, and delegate to the Republican National Convention. He also operated the Carthage License Bureau and currently operates a working farm south of Carthage. John and his wife, Merre, were married in 1969 and are the parents of four children.