Theresa Joan (Povala) Kolich, known to most as Joan, beloved wife, mother,
grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, and sister, passed away during the silence of the night Sunday, December 15th with family at her side. She was surrounded by love and the peace of the fallen snow.
“The Sweet Spot of Missouri” otherwise known as Sugar Creek, Missouri is where Joan was born on August 4, 1930 to John Bernard Povala and Agnes Mary (Diesko), and where she continued to live out most of her 89 joyous years. Joan attended Sugar Creek Grade School where she later served as school nurse. While attending Northeast High School in Kansas City, Joan displayed her competitive spirit and leadership, excelling at hockey and basketball, presiding over the Theta Club, participating in The National Honor Society, and graduating with honors in 1948. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from The College of Saint Teresa of Kansas City, Missouri (Avila) in 1952. Later in life, because of her love of learning and her dedication to health career, Joan went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Health.
Joan was motivated and had an admirable work ethic, but knew how to enjoy life. She loved to dance. She met Edward Louis Kolich, husband-to-be and dance partner for life at a Halloween dance in Sugar Creek. They were married August 1, 1953 at St. Cyril’s Catholic Church in Sugar Creek, MO and they glided, dipped, swirled and two-stepped through fifty-three years of life together.
Joan and Ed raised their four daughters Marcia, Lisa, Beth, and Roxane, and one son Michael in Sugar Creek. They were members of St. Ann’s Altar Society, and PTA members of both St. Ann’s Grade School and St. Mary’s High School, where their five children attended. Joan served on the Knights of Columbus Women’s Auxiliary and The Women of the Moose Lodge where she was chairperson of youth involvement. Volunteering was a major part of her life. She helped organize Sugar Creek’s food pantry and was a docent at the Truman Library. She did take time to entertain with her dancing group, The Dancing Queens, at various social gatherings and events.
Passion interlinked with skill fueled Joan’s 45-year career in nursing from 1952 until her second retirement in 1995. She began her fulfilling and accomplished career at St. Joseph Hospital as a medical and surgical instructor, teaching students in the medical and surgical program. From 1954 to1956 she was the nurse for Sugar Creek School, before moving on to the Jackson County Health Department as a Public Health Nurse until 1967.
Joan then made the transition to the night shift as a nursing supervisor and head nurse of the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital. Joan applied her practicality and cunning fashion sense to start the trend of nurses wearing slacks at St. Joseph’s. From 1976 to 1979 Joan culminated her time at St. Joseph’s as the coordinator of their Grandview Satellite, instilling a new program which provided emergency and outpatient care for residences in Grandview.
Joan returned to the Jackson County Health Department in 1979 and remaining until 1995. Joan earned the position of Deputy Director in which she was able to implement many new innovative programs. She established various immunization clinics in rural areas which helped contain the Measles outbreak in 1988 and documented and stayed on top of communicable diseases.
Joan was instrumental in setting up school-based clinics and satellite clinics in Grandview and Oak Grove, MO which insured the health and well-being of families through the county. She tirelessly worked side by side with staff in the evenings and weekends. Even after her second retirement Joan worked as a substitute school nurse for the Independence, Mo. Schools. In retirement she was balanced by attending daily Mass at St. Ann’s Church.
Among all of her social and altruistic activities, as well as the demands of a dedicated career, Joan was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She went dancing with Eddie and they traveled near and far. She juggled dance, sports, music lessons and pageants for her five children. She cared for and guided her thirteen grandchildren, loudly supporting them in their activities and creating an atmosphere of love and joy. She was there for her eleven great-grandchildren with swimming fun and generous affection. Joan’s spirit embraced so many people and enriched so many lives. She will be missed, but all who know her know that there is now a guardian angel watching over us always.
Joan was preceded in death by her father and mother, John and Agnes Povala and her husband Edward Kolich. She is survived by her sister Mary Agnes Onka; five children, thirteen grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren, which include Marcia Taylor and husband Terry of Kirksville, MO, and their children Matthew Taylor, wife Andrea, Skyler Linn, husband Aaron, their children Henry and Charlotte, Callan Taylor; Lisa O’Neill and her husband Brien of Kansas City, and their children Jennifer O’Neill, her children Laney Ward and Stella Olah, Jessica Switzer and her husband Kevin, their children Lillian, Lucille, and Elizabeth, Jeffrey O’Neill and wife Amanda, their child Emmett; Beth Golden and her husband John of Lee’s Summit, MO, and their children Amanda Blanton and husband Zach, children Amelia, Samantha, and Eddie, Joe Golden, Louis Golden and wife Taylor; Roxane Alter and husband Frank of Overland Park, and their children Ian and wife Sarah, Danny Alter; Mike Kolich and wife Cheryl of Overland Park, and their children Alex and Ashton.
The funeral Mass for Joan Kolich will be Monday, December 23, at 11 a.m., at St. Ann’s Church, 10113 E. Lexington in Independence, MO, and will be preceded by a visitation for family and friends from 10-11 a.m. at the church. The family invites you to celebrate Joan’s wonderful life with them- a life filled with laughter, love, motherly and grand-motherly advice, a guiding and serving hand for many people and communities, a fearless leader of her family and of the masses, a beacon of compassion, intelligence, and unconditional love that will be a comforting glow for family and friends throughout their lives.
Theresa Joan Kolich’s family expresses its sincere gratitude to the staff and caregivers of Stratford Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Overland Park, KS for their personal loving attention. In lieu of flowers, the family recommends donations to Catholic Community Hospice. God Bless.