John Edward Conrad, 78, of rural Platte County transitioned to his new adventure on
Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019. He held a cross fashioned of olive wood from the Holy
Land gifted by Platte Woods Methodist Church (of which John was a charter member)
during one of their members many visits with John during his 14 days at North Kansas
City Hospital and then 11 days at Kansas City Hospice House.
He was born January 25, 1941 to C. Edward Conrad and Margaret (McClaren) Conrad
in Independence, MO. In 1955 Ed moved his family to rural Platte County realizing his
dream of living on a farm with his wife Margaret and raising his three children, Janet,
John and Charles in a rural setting.
John had an inquisitive and bright mind, active in Boy Scouts, achieving the rank
of Eagle Scout in high school. Elected Student Body President in his senior year,
John showed his interest in the political process as well as revealed the regard of his
Inspired by his cousin Bob Luyben, founder of Kansas City’s own Luyben Music, he
took up the clarinet as his instrument, playing it not only in Park Hill High School’s band
but also in the Melody Mad Men Band, a band of his peers who performed locally. Years
later, John would sing the phrase “Hold that Tiger” from one of the band’s often
performed numbers. The skill he honed on the clarinet served him later when he
enlisted in military 1964.
John graduated Park Hill High School, May 22, 1959, National Honor Society member.
In high school, John distinguished himself in as a sprinter in the 100 & 220 yard dashes
and was awarded an athletic scholarship in Track and Field by Baker University of
Baldwin City, KS to which he headed in the fall of 1959. By 1960, John had transferred
to University of Missouri at Columbia taking courses from 1960-63.
John was devoted to his family. John and his brother Charles sold fireworks every July 4
for several years, setting up their tent space at the intersection of Highways 9 and 45 in
the Parkville, Mo. area. Both worked “extra board” on what was then the Chicago,
Burlington & Northern Railway (since 1970 the Burlington Northern Railroad). The
railroad paid a high wage for “exta board” and John’s Scottish heritage (McClaren clan)
emerged in his ability to save money. His sister Janet remembers how his ability to save
money allowed him to treat her and his nieces and nephews to an excursion to Silver
Dollar City and another of winter skiing at Squaw Creek Ski Area in Platte County. Ed
and Margaret hosted family gatherings on holidays at the farm and while the adults were
catching up with each others’ lives which John characterized in later years as “talking
about a whole lot of nothing”, John would always be with the youngsters because he said
“the kids always knew how to make fun.”
John enlisted in the Army and beginning his service April 20, 1964 he was assigned to
Goeppingen, Germany outside of Stuttgart. John was a man of few words but when he
spoke it counted and such was the case when he went to pick up his uniform for the tank
core and found the uniforms for the Army band next to them. All the hours he honed his
skill on the clarinet in high school prepared him to ask confidently if they needed a
clarinet in the Army band. The answer being “yes”, he was transferred to the Army
band. One experience John talked about later was that he carried a little black book in his
pocket in which he wrote dates and times of Army band engagements. Some fellow band
members mistakenly thought he was an IG spy gathering evidence in his black book
which resulted in more than one strange interchange.
Stateside John enrolled in UMKC receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology
June 8, 1968 followed by a Master of Arts in Education August 7, 1970. John secured
a teaching position as Electrical Shop instructor at Park Hill High School from which he
had graduated. Not a good fit, he was admitted to graduate school at Central Missouri
State in Warrensburg, Missouri earning a Master of Science in Safety February 28,
1978 and a second Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene May 20, 1979. His focus was
to make the workplace safe for the worker. In that capacity, he primarily oversaw the
removal of asbestos and kept Army base hospitals in compliance with OSHA regulations
With his mother, Margaret Conrad’s passing in 1980, John became passionate about
learning to cook and eat healthy. In 1986 he attended a weekend camp south of
Columbia, Missouri sponsoring cooking classes for a healthier life where he met his
wife of 32 years, Jan SteGermaine. John employed at Fort Leonard Wood Army
Base near St Louis, MO transferred to the Topeka, Kansas VA to be closer to his
aging father, C. Edward Conrad. Spending weekends with his Dad, John took him
to Amber Waves Restaurant, a macrobiotic vegetarian restaurant in Kansas City where
he renewed his acquaintance with his future wife. In the spirit of embracing the energy of
seasonal change, their first date was prefaced by foraging for edible, wild spring greens
which they prepared as a condiment for their first “meal from scratch” together.
Married in an outdoor church in Baldwin City Kansas, September 12, 1987, they
honeymooned 21 days in Europe. In England the tour of Stonehenge allowed them
to walk the ground around it. They were entertained by a Shakespearean drama in
Stratford-upon-Avon and enjoyed the many sites of London from a famed double decker
bus. In Paris they they toured the Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee de Cluny and others
recharged each day by delicious French cuisine.
One unforgettable experience in Switzerland was having their car completely stopped
and surrounded by a herd of cattle coming down from pasturing in high alpine
meadows while their neck bells clamored and their full bellies slapped the car doors
Returning to Kansas City, John continued working in the Topeka VA, then
transferred closer to the farm at the Leavenworth Army Post and eventually left civil
A 5th Wedding anniversary was celebrated in Shanghai, China a day late when the
international date line swallowed up their actual anniversary date.
In 1995 John and Jan settled in John’s boyhood home, “the farm” as he called it.
He thrived teaching himself to drive the 8N Ford tractor, creating a “U-Pick-Strawberry
Patch”, designing a simple irrigation system for a vegetable garden and building a green
house. In between these projects, he worked at the rural water company and finally
Mid-Continent Public Library. His duties there included throwing away worn AV
equipment. Frequently he decided they were not too worn and brought many
home squirreling them away in old suitcases storing them in the garage for later viewing
He encouraged Jan to complete requirements toward Masters of Science in Acupuncture
and Chinese Herbology (1997-1999) and became a willing volunteer pin cushion. He
helped her build out her Acupuncture Clinic office space in 1999 and became a frequent
August 2015, as he was first experiencing problems walking, the first signs of his case of
Parkinson’s, he took medical leave officially retiring in March, 2016. A mild heart attack
experienced during a dental procedure in May 2016, introduced him to cardiac
rehabilitation exercises. At the VA in Kansas City, an always active John pursued
a physicial medicine program taught by Physical Therapists called “Big and Loud”.
It consisted of exerices in gross motor movement and also speech which allowed him to
regain basic locomotion proven by walking so well he would forget his cane.
John was admittted to the hospital after a fall April 18, 2019. He declined. He passed in
Kansas City Hospice House on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.
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