Cover photo for Joellen Walker's Obituary
Joellen Walker Profile Photo
1953 Joellen 2020

Joellen Walker

August 15, 1953 — January 8, 2020

The Story of Joellen Walker (aka Jo, Aunt Joey and Jo-Jo)

Joellen Walker was born August 15, 1953 to Gerald and Beverly Walker. She was the second daughter and was born with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during the birthing process. Her official diagnosis would not be given for a year.

The family of four, Jane and Joellen with their parents lived in Clearmont, Missouri where both of her parents were teachers. The first year of her life was tough, but she was loved, and she was strong and survived.

Her parents knew that she would need special services after her diagnosis of CP, so the family of four moved to St. Joseph because that city had a preschool for handicapped children. Two more sisters, Jerri and Jennifer, joined the family while living in St. Joseph.

Jo's life changed when she was accepted to the Institute of Logopedics in Wichita, Kansas. This was a boarding school for children with disabilities. Jo lived in a cottage with another girl and a caregiver. We all loved Mama May. This is where Joellen learned to walk and talk and read and write. Most children wear biking helmets now; but Jo learned to walk wearing a helmet, a football helmet. Jo began attending the Institute in 1959 when she was 6 years old. She would come home for a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks around Christmas, a week at Easter and for the month of August. That's when we learned how smart she was. She never forgot anything.

Jo continued her education until she was 13. By that time, the Walker family had moved to Creighton and lived in the home that Harold and Esther Brown built. The summer that she came to live in Creighton she had extensive surgery to both legs. The surgery was performed at that time as her physicians felt that her legs had stopped growing in length. Jo was able to walk for a number of years without a walker, let alone a wheelchair.

Jo became an Elvis Presley fan and would watch every Elvis movie that came on television. She listened to his music and read fan magazines. One of her favorite activities was to attend Camp Lake of the Woods at Starlight in the summer.

As time went on, Jo started working at the Cass County Sheltered Workshop and even for a time lived in a group home in Harrisonville. She would come home for the weekends just like the college girls did.

It was at the sheltered workshop that she met Paul Boyd. They fell in love and were married in December of 1982 at the Walker home in Creighton. By that time, the Walkers were living at 101 Short Street. Joellen and Paul moved to Wichita, Kansas, and had an apartment in the Timbers Complex. The Timbers Complex is a series of apartments for people with disabilities. Jo and Paul divorced within a few years, but Jo remained at the Timbers, moving to a different apartment. She came to Creighton to visit basically on the same schedule she had as a child, except she only stayed a week in August.

By this time, she had transitioned into Aunt Joey and had four nieces and a nephew: Amanda, Liz, Racheal, Jessie and Matt, who she dearly loved. However, to her friends and care givers at the Timbers, she became Jo-Jo. She continued with her love of music but had given up Elvis for the country music stars. Reba was one of her favorites.

Her mobility started declining, so her motorized wheelchair became her legs. She qualified for assistance four hours per day. The schedule seemed to work for her. Jo-Jo had many friends at the Timbers and would attend most of the activities there. She was always
on the go. She attended church services at the Timbers when she was able.

As time went on, her health declined. She had a medical crisis in 2014 and as a result, moved to a group home in Mission, Kansas to be closer to her family. Jo-Jo knew it was for the best, but she missed Wichita and her friends. She had become a Wichita State Shockers Basketball fan.

Her love for music continued, and both of her sisters tried to take her to musical events, Grease at Starlight, Ladies of Country Music at the Chestnut Theatre and our annual Christmas in Song at the Quality Hill Playhouse.

When the entire family would gather, Jo-Jo's home would provide transportation for her to see her family.

Jo loved going to the movies, shopping, jewelry and getting her hair cut and colored. She had the beautiful dark hair from the Walker side of the family.

Our last family event was January 5th. It was the Walker/Jackson holiday gathering. She was there and had a great time.

On the morning of January 8th, she was found unresponsive when her care giver went to wake her to help her get dressed for the day.

Joellen was preceded in death by both sets of grandparents, her father, Gerald Walker and her sister, Jane Smith and two uncles, Les Wainscott and Arlie Jackson.

She is survived by her mother, Beverly Walker and two sisters, Jerri Carter and husband John and Jennifer Cramer; also, her nieces.

Amanda Schenk and husband Trevor, Liz Geist and husband Greg, Racheal Kendrick and husband Dan, Jessie Smith and husband Cody and her nephew, Matt Cramer and wife Cindy; plus her great nieces and nephews: Kaitlyn, Alex, Emma, Jayelyn, Kauffman, Alex G., Hallaway, Ina, Jacob, Cora, Bauer, Mira and one on the way; brother-in-law, Steve Smith, aunts Rosellen Wainscott and Betty Jackson, cousins and friends.

Cremation. A Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. at the Creighton United Methodist Church, Creighton, Missouri.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joellen Walker, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life Service

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Starts at 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Creighton United Methodist Church

208 D. St., Creighton, MO 64739

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