Joan Percy

1928 - 2021


July 14, 2021 - 7:49 AM

Joan K. Percy, age 92, died on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, with her sons by her side. 

Joan Kathleen Burke-Abell Percy was born to Clifford and Ruby Isabelle Bybee Burke on Dec. 13, 1928, in Fort Scott. When she was a little girl, her parents divorced. Her mother was re-married to Kenneth Abell on Nov. 25, 1936, and Joan considered Kenny to be her beloved father from that time forward. The family then moved to Iola, where Joan attended school and graduated from Iola High School in 1946. She excelled academically and was an honor student. Joan was popular among her classmates and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was a student leader at IHS and participated in many extra-curricular activities and organizations. 

She was involved with the IHS Minnie Mustangs Pep Squad, served on the Production and Writing Staff and was Business Manager for the IHS Lamp Annual Yearbook. Joan was a member of the IHS Home Economics Club, Drama Club, Pep Club, Girl Reserves Club (an IHS Religious Organization), starred in the Senior Class play and was a class officer on the Student Council. During high school, she was also President of the United Methodist Church Youth Group.

Joan was married to Robert John Percy on April 20, 1947, in Iola, at the home of her parents. After previously serving his country during WWII, Robert re-enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and became a career military man while rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During the 19 years of Robert’s military career, Joan and the children lived on many different military bases and moved across the country and overseas. Some of the places they lived were San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Hawaii, and Heilbronn and Heidelberg, Germany. When Robert had a military assignment where his family could not be with him, Joan and the boys would return to Iola to stay with the couple’s parents (the Abells and Percys). Following Robert’s retirement from the Army in 1967, the family briefly moved back to Iola and then moved to Manhattan in order for him to earn his degree from Kansas State University. After his graduation, they remained in Manhattan, making it their home from that time on. Joan and Robert also vacationed and traveled extensively, and she loved the trips they took together as well as those that included their family and friends. They loved gardening together, too. 

Joan was a homemaker, and wherever she lived she was always a willing volunteer in charity work, being very involved in her community. She held offices as a member of the Parent Teacher Association while her children were in school and served as a Gray Lady at the hospital. Joan was a member of many civic organizations, clubs and associations, including The Pilot Club, Copers Club, Bridge Club, and the Walkie Talkie Coffee Group. Joan was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Manhattan where she served in many capacities with one of her favorites being Sunday Morning Worship Greeter. She followed the examples of Christ throughout her life, and thus invited her father-in-law into her home to live after he was widowed and, later, tenderly and lovingly cared for him as he lost his battle with brain cancer.

Joan is survived by sons James Kent (Jim) Percy and wife Carol of Americus, and Robert Alan Percy and wife Karen Furgiuele-Percy of Toronto, Canada; and daughter-in-law Jennie Zygmontowicz Percy of Beaufort, S.C. She is survived by grandchildren Tani Percy Weber and husband Paul of Seattle, Wash., Gwendolyn Percy Mccleave and husband William of Florence, Miss., Levi Percy of Olathe,  JoJo Percy Jones and husband Corey of Waco, Texas, Caleb Percy and wife Cheryl of Lutherville, Md., and Caitlin Percy Nolan Toppin and husband Will of Wilmington, Del. Joan is also survived by great-grandchildren John Russel Midgarden, Jesse Midgarden, Jason Midgarden, Andrea Edgecombe and husband Will, Abigail Jordan, Mack James Percy, Sawyer Martin Jones, and Mackayla Nolan. She is survived as well by sister-in-law Jeanne Ann Masterson Percy of Iola, brother-in-law Claude Orris Percy of Shawnee Mission, and many nieces and nephews.

After sixty-nine years of marriage, Joan was preceded in death by husband Robert John Percy, who died Aug. 2, 2016. She lost her eldest son, Captain John Eric “Rick” Percy, on Jan. 14, 2021. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Ruby and Kenny Abell and Clifford Burke; maternal grandparents, John W. and Mary Ellen Bybee; father- and mother-in-law, Mack Joseph and Pearl Pansy Latimer Percy; brothers- and sisters-in-law, Carl Leslie Percy, Eugene Mack Percy and wife Ramona Zoe Riepen Percy, Oscar Latimer Percy and wife Mary Jeanne Campbell Percy, William Glenn “Curly” Percy, Margaret Yvonne Dreher Percy; and nephews, Michael K. Percy and Thomas M. Percy.

Joan was a beautiful and giving soul. She was always a loving and devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, “sister,’’ aunt, and friend, who will be dearly missed by everyone whose life she touched.

The Reverend Ben Duerfeldt will officiate memorial services for Joan at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 15, at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Chapel, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502. 

lnurnment will follow the services at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery at Fort Riley in Manhattan.