Ms. Carnahan was born Jean Carpenter on Dec. 20, 1933, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Anacostia, a working-class neighborhood in the city’s southeast section. Her father, Reginald Carpenter, was a plumber, and her mother, Alvina Carpenter, a hairdresser.
She met Mr. Carnahan when they were teenagers at a Sunday night youth group at a Baptist church, and they sat next to each other in class at Anacostia High School, the family said. The couple were married on June 12, 1954.
The following year, Ms. Carnahan graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business and public administration. She and Mr. Carnahan raised four children on a farm outside of Rolla, Mo., a small community in the Ozarks.
Ms. Carnahan is survived by two sons: Russ and Tom; a daughter, Robin; and five grandchildren.
Roger Wilson, the former Missouri governor who appointed Ms. Carnahan to the Senate, said in a statement released by the Carnahan family on Tuesday that she was his “first and only choice” to take the seat won by her husband.
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.