Joanne Lynn Gratton died at home on October 10th, 2018, at the age of sixty-three, after battling metastatic ocular melanoma since March 2017.
Jo was born in Larned, KS, to John and Margaret (Olach) Ooton. Her family moved to Kansas City when she was a teen. She attended Park Hill High School followed by Rockhurst College where she met Matt Gratton. In 1975 they moved to St. Louis where Jo completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Matt earned his medical degree from St. Louis University. Early in their marriage, Matt’s position in the Navy took them to Okinawa, Japan, and Long Beach, California, before they would eventually settle back in KC in the Roeland Park area where they raised their children, Tess, Sean, and Travis. The family returned to Tokyo Bay in Japan for 3 years of active-duty Navy service for Matt. After earning her teaching certificate in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, Joanne served as the president of the Kamakura Chapter of Ikebana International in 1996-1997. Upon returning to the states in 1997, Jo enjoyed being close to friends again and her extended family, leading volunteers at her children’s schools, meeting with her book clubs, and of course, gardening.
A lifelong learner and scientist, some of Joanne’s favorite topics were human biology, world history, cooking, and Star Wars. She also loved all things Disney and shared that love with her family through regular trips to Disney World. She particularly enjoyed making the trip to Orlando with her oldest grandchildren in October 2017.
More than anything else, Jo loved Matt, her children, and her grandchildren. Her forty-two years of marriage to Matt were filled with curiosity, travel, wit, and lots of movies. Tess, Sean, and Travis inherited these same passions and carry them into their own marriages today. Natalie Parker, Maureen Walsh, and Carly (Wagner) Gratton, Jo’s daughters-in-law, were welcomed into the family with the warmth and unconditional love Jo showed her own children. She was proud of her kids and their work, supportive through challenging times, and always willing to offer solid advice.
Joanne was known for her compassion and generosity, her quick humor, and her sharp intellect. She had strong feelings about acorns (smash them all), math (the only perfect science), and bacon fat (the best way to add a dash of love to any spaghetti recipe). She inspired those around her to indulge curiosity and to be responsible citizens who look for the best in others.
She is survived by her husband, Matthew C. Gratton; her children, Tess Gratton (Natalie Parker), Sean Gratton (Maureen Walsh) and their children, Catherine, Mary Jane, and Annie Gratton, and Travis Gratton (Carly) and a grandbaby due next month; her siblings, Diane Ooton (Terry Smith), Scott Ooton (Diane), and Sue Ross (Robert); and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, October 15th, at the Irish Cultural Center (3301 Baltimore, KCMO) at 5:30 pm, followed immediately by a reception. A private family burial will be held at Leavenworth National Cemetery on October 16th. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation. To make a gift online, please go to www.tmcgiving.org. Contributions may be sent to TMC Foundation, 2301 Holmes St. KCMO, 64108. Assistance by Funeral Advocates.