Cover photo for Catherine Joan Ward's Obituary
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1938 Joan 2023

Catherine Joan Ward

April 6, 1938 — July 30, 2023

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        Catherine Joan (Gannon) Ward, known as Joan Ward, 85, of Kansas City, Missouri, and most recently Overland Park, Kansas, died peacefully on July 30, 2023, surrounded by her family. A visitation will take place at 10:00 AM, on Thursday, August 10; a Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 AM, both at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 11822 Holmes Road in Kansas City, Missouri, with a reception to follow.

        Joan was born April‑6, 1938, in Hastings, Nebraska. She was the oldest of five children born to Nellie Lorena Sullivan Gannon and Joseph Hugh Gannon. She grew up in North Platte, Nebraska, and attended St. Patrick’s High School. She attended St. Mary College (now University of St. Mary), in Leavenworth, Kansas.

        Joan began her career as a Registered Nurse in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked primarily in hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units. She then met and married her late husband of nearly 63 years, R. Lawrence Ward (Larry). Together they had five children.

        After the birth of a child with a congenital heart defect, Joan retired to care for the family at home, and became a self-described full-time volunteer. Her kindness and generosity knew no bounds, especially when it came to help for people who lacked the financial resources needed to provide for themselves and their families. Joan was an avid, proud, and dedicated volunteer at all levels, including leadership positions at Seton Center, Ladies of Charity, St. Joseph Hospital, and the Kansas City Museum.

        Joan was a devoted wife and a loving mother. She survived Polio as an adolescent and lived in an iron lung for nearly one year. She loved people and she loved to “gab,” laugh, and tell and listen to stories. She also loved learning, and was a prolific reader all of her life. Joan enjoyed hosting and attending parties, Bridge clubs, book clubs, church groups, and playing team tennis. She loved food and cooking, especially her beloved sweets. She enjoyed traveling with Larry, the love of her life, most especially their visits to Ireland and to Rome, Italy. In later years she loved to watch and cheer for her favorite professional tennis players and the University of Kansas basketball team on television.

        Joan was preceded in death by her husband R. Lawrence Ward (Larry Ward) and son Christopher Lawrence Ward; her parents, her brothers Patrick Gannon and Michael Gannon; and a sister Janice Gannon, She is survived by her sister Jeanne Popke (James) of Appleton, Wisconsin, her children: Cynthia Bloom (Edwin Sowell) of Silver Spring, Maryland; Stephanie Leitzel (Robert D.) of Burke, Virginia; Colleen Ward of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Robert Emmet Ward II (Ashley) of Golden, Colorado, and 11 grandchildren: Andrew Bloom, Joseph Bloom, Daniel Bloom; Michaela Leitzel, David Leitzel, Bobby Leitzel; Mariah Magdziak, Emma Ward; and Dayton Ward, Shane Ward, and Avalon Ward. She also is survived by her nephews Michael Popke and John Popke, and her niece Kimberly Gannon Oliver.

        As a special note, Joan’s family would like to extend their gratitude to the staff of Blue Sage of Tallgrass Creek and Ascend Hospice for their loving care.

In lieu of flowers and other gifts, the family suggests donation to:

  • Seton Center

Online donations preferred:

        (If by mail please write JOAN WARD MEMORIAL on memo line and send to: 2816 East 23rd Street, Kansas City, MO 64127)


  • The Ward Family Heart Center (no relation) of Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Online donations preferred:

        (If by mail, please write LARRY & JOAN WARD MEMORIAL on the memo line and send to: Children’s Mercy Hospital Dept. of Philanthropy, 2401 Gillham RD Kansas City, MO 64108)

Service Schedule

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Thursday, August 10, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

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