Joe was born April 11th, 1942 in St. Louis, Missouri to Harry and Lillian (Graver) Gittemeier, the beloved baby of their five children. After suffering from debilitating Alzheimer’s disease Joe passed away on Thursday, September 1st surrounded by his loving family.
He was born and raised in St. Louis attending St. Ann’s grade school, Seminary, and University of Missouri-Rolla where he obtained his degree in Civil Engineering. One of Joe’s proudest moments was that his grandson now plays football at his alma mater. He reconnected with and married Kathy Costello, his former grade school classmate. Joe and Kathy moved to Kansas City where they created a home together to raise their five children, Elizabeth, Joey, Ellen, Kevin, and Maureen. After losing his beloved wife, that he affectionately called “Queenie”, to cancer at age 42, Joe gracefully took on the roles of both mother and father to his five kids. Kathy left big shoes to fill as she was a doting mother and wife.
While Joe spent his entire career in sales and finance his true passion was his family. Always selfless, he cared for others before himself. On snowy mornings he could be found out shoveling his kids’ driveways before the sun was up. He did everything from driving carpools to curling hair. Joe’s perfect day was at one of his daughter’s houses eating last night’s leftovers, followed by sneaking on a course for a round of golf with one of his sons or son in-laws, then finishing the day with his signature Manhattan drink; but just one!
He loved family gatherings and truly valued the gift of being a father, husband, and grandpa. Of all Joe’s accomplishments in life, he was most proud of his five children and eighteen grandchildren. On his 53rd birthday he became a grandfather for the first time with his first granddaughter born that day. The role of grandpa was his favorite, as they lovingly referred to him as Pa. Pa could be found at any of their school or sporting events, cheering loudly and chatting up new friends, as he never met a stranger.
In 1993, Joe married his current wife, Rosemary Wayne. They had a devoted, loving marriage for 29 years. They loved to golf, travel and spend time with friends and family. They made a great pair, while she was always beautifully coifed and a planner, Joe’s plan was “not to plan”.
Growing up in a devout Catholic family, his mother and father instilled in him a strong faith. Joe frequently attended morning Mass and adoration to start his day. He passed this faith on to his children and grandchildren.
Joe was well-known for his distinctively deep voice, hearty laugh, contagious sense of humor and his great head of hair. He had a willingness to help anyone in need, whether asked or not. He had an unwavering love for Cardinal football and K-State sports. After retiring, he became a member of a rowdy tennis league made up of older gentlemen. They would meet at the Prairie Village tennis courts every day, rain or shine, and finish at Burger King with the dollar menu.
After losing several family members to Alzheimer’s, Joe actively participated in many research studies at KU Med. He joined multiple clinical trials and made the ultimate gift by donating his body to Alzheimer’s research.
Joe is preceded in death by his wife Kathy (Costello) Gittemeier and his parents Harry and Lillian (Graver) Gittemeier, and his siblings; Bob (Delores) Gittemeier, Richard (Betty) Gittemeier, Marilyn (Jim) Hubbard, Dorothy (Dick) Bosse. He leaves behind his wife, Rosemary Wayne, and his children, Elizabeth (Clay) Crawford, Joey Gittemeier, Ellen (Peter) Clune, Kevin (Jodie) Gittemeier, Maureen (Nate) Lindstrom. He leaves an amazing legacy in his grandchildren; Bailey Kate, Brooks, Kevin, and Sawyer Crawford; Jessie, Jake, and Nick Gittemeier; Lily, Amelia, and Chloe Clune; Mary Jane, Laura, Ella, Harry, Maggie and Georgia Gittemeier; Sadie and Hudson Lindstrom.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will take place September 5th, 3:00PM at Nativity Parish Church 3800 West 119th Street, Leawood, KS.
In lieu of flowers please donate to the:
KU Endowment-Alzheimer’s Disease Center 09547
He specifically chose this organization because they conduct research in the efforts to finding a cure for this disease.