Cover photo for Joan Henges's Obituary
Joan Henges Profile Photo
1937 Joan 2020

Joan Henges

April 3, 1937 — December 27, 2020

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Joan McKnight (Parsons) Henges left earth on December 27, 2020, from Covid-19. Her beloved husband of 66 years, Richard J. Henges, Jr. was able to be with her to the end. We have reason to believe Joan is now happily riding horses bareback in heaven. More on that later
Joan was born to the late John Eaton Parsons and Susie Ellen McKnight Parsons (later Alexander) on April 3, 1937 in Kansas City, Kansas. Her son, Richard J. Henges III and grandson Clifton Troy Henges were there to greet her in heaven. She leaves five children, Theresa Mac Henges (Charles Haddix), Victoria (Brent) Menninger, Gerald Christopher (Marcy) Henges, Brian Francis Henges, and Mary Still. Joan leaves her beloved 15 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, who enjoyed many fun experiences with their grandparents.
Joan was Dicks high school sweetheart, the target of dozens of letters declaring his love for her. We saw Dads bundle of letters written while he was away in Boulder, Colorado, for college at the young age of 16. Talk about being in love! Dick had to move closer to Joanie, so he transferred to Mizzou. Then, Joan and Dick eloped in 1954. In Dads love letters, he came up with names for the five children he anticipated them having, but number six arrived as a bonus baby on Dicks 26th birthday.
Joans kids still do not know how she could prepare delicious meals for a family of eight every night. That amazes us to this day! Maybe that is why, when asked what they liked about living at Lakeview Village, her first answer was "I dont have to fix dinner anymore."
Joan and Dick were grateful for the babysitting and other loving assistance from Joans mom, Susie, and Joans grandparents (Mimi and Mac), and from Dicks parents, Richard and Tommy Henges.
Joan and Dick had a special mission, their special needs son, Brian. Being developmentally delayed and having cerebral palsy, Brian benefitted from Joan and Dicks efforts to do anything they could to help Brian physically and mentally. This came in the form of fighting for his education, fighting for legislation, making flashcards, agreeing to surgeries, and corralling dozens of people to participate in "patterning" sessions, where five people would move his limbs and head in rhythm to help his gross motor skills. Joan arranged those two-a-day sessions without the help of the Internet! Those efforts continued through his adulthood, going to medical appointments, driving Brian down to the Ozarks for ta week Camp Wonderland, and more, until Brians siblings took over with their dear brother.
Joan had a stunning surprise when she was 36, she discovered she had a half-sister, Barbara Parsons (David) Smith in Victoria, Texas. Not only did Joan and Barb share the same beauty and wit, but they also shared a deep love for each other, for each others spouses, and for their nieces and nephews. Trips between Texas and KC eagerly ensued.
Joan and Dick kept their high school friends throughout their lives, as their connection and fun together continued through stages of children and more. They lived in four parishes, making dear friends at each stop: St Catherine of Sienna, Visitation, St. Agnes, and St. Thomas More. There are more parties than we can count that involved each of these different groups of friends. A Tom and Jerry party serving drinks by the same name. The Bad Taste Party, with the most silly array of outfits, and way too much fun! They had their Mizzou buddies who caravanned together to the football games. Chief parties, New Years Eve parties, birthday parties, Halloween parties, and more.
In Brookside, the large front porch of their colonial home was the setting for everyone in the neighborhood while the kids paraded up and down the block hitting pot lids on the 4th July. Donuts and laughter abounded. On Halloween, Joan set up a witch over a large cauldron on the balcony over the front porch. For Easter, her kids, then the grandkids, dyed eggs with her. Later that night, Joan and Dick would fill dozens of plastic eggs with coins and candy for the kids to find during the Easter egg hunt the next morning.
Although she had young children, Joan helped Dick at The Henges Company and attended Metropolitan Junior College-Kansas City. Once her children were in school, Joan began her career at the Kansas City Star delivering newspapers, but quickly worked her way up to become Manager for the Newspaper in Education Department. She worked with teachers and students throughout the city using the newspaper as a vehicle to teach math, history, geography, English, and more. Recognized for her excellence in the newspaper and its outreach, she was awarded the Full Nelson for Consistent And Outstanding Customer Service, the first time a Full Nelson was awarded to a woman. As the demand for newspapers waned, she moved to Sprint as an executive assistant, and moved up to a Project Manager. Her job was phased out at Sprint PCS, but her skills were welcomed at the Jackson County Child Protection Center. She was a nurturing person who welcomed traumatized children into a safe space.
Joan was an excellent writer and cartoonist. Many of her humorous pieces and art were featured in The Star and local publications, including a published article and sketch describing a UFO she and Dick, along with other neighbors, witnessed while walking in Fairway Manor.
Joan had several co-conspirators who loved to hit the estate sales with her. One friend said they were the "ladies who junked," not the "ladies who lunched." Joan furnished four homes with her treasures. This was an abiding pleasure. Thank goodness she got to scratch that itch by watching Pickers on the History Channel when it became too difficult for her to explore.
With all that going on, it seems hard to believe that Joan carved out time to perform in plays and musicals at The Barn Theater in Prairie Village and at Shawnee Missions Theater in the Park. She had a marvelous singing voice, one noted for its perfect pitch, that paired well with her good looks! She was known as the cool mom with her go-go boots and stylish outfits.
Joan was an accomplished artist, painting with acrylics and pastels and drawing in charcoal and ink. Many people who have seen her work initially thought they were looking at a photograph. Among the pieces are a large painting of Visitation Church, a beautiful pastel of her Mama, and a piece with horses in the snow she painted as a teenager. She also brought a pottery wheel home. She made handsome pieces of pottery still treasured by family and friends.
Our family is grateful Joan and Dick were able to travel in retirement, including trips to visit their St. Louis family and our D.C. area family. They discovered more family in Germany and explored and cruised many different parts of the world. They loved wearing their souvenir T-Shirts because they stimulated conversations about their travels.
Joan was an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction books and magazines. She loved Science Fiction and began to enjoy mysteries. She so enjoyed the proximity of the Lakeview Village library, we teased her about having half the library in their apartment.
Joan and Dick have really enjoyed living at Lakeview Village in their independent apartment and dining with their new Lakeview friends. They took advantage of the saltwater pool, with Marys constancy in getting them to the pool and providing rocking music to stimulate their exercises while joining them in the pool for encouragement. One of Moms Lakeview favorites, the What Not Shop and its bargains, was like having an ongoing estate sale in the basement of their building. One of the best benefits have been their physicians on the campus, so giving of their time, knowledge, expertise, good humor, and kindness.
Many friends have reached out after Joan passed, all of them talked about her wonderful smile, deft humor, quick and deep intelligence, breadth of knowledge, and her unceasing kindness. Despite the frustration of severe short-term memory and being hobbled by pulmonary fibrosis, Joan maintained her positive outlook, shared her gratitude and love, made us laugh and made us think. It is so hard for us to believe she is gone.
Now, back to the horse. During Joans youth, she had horses and loved riding them. Her love of horses never stopped, as shown by the horse-themed gifts she received throughout her life. First daughter, Terri, had a dream this past Christmas morning, which she shared during the family Zoom meeting that afternoon. Terri told Joan, and the rest of us, that in her dream, Joan was riding a white horse with glorious abandon, bare back! Terri could see Joans face beaming with joy in the dream. Two days later, we knew Joan was riding again.
In lieu of flowers, Joan would be grateful for any donations to Brians day program, Developing Potential, Inc., 251 NW Executive Way, Lees Summit, MO 64063.
Memorial Service Muehlebach Funeral Care

Sunday, January 24, 2021

3:00 PM

6800 Troost AvenueKansas City, Missouri 64131

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