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Central Standard

Kansas Citians Remember Loved Ones Lost In 2014

Courtesy photo
American Jazz Museum

On Central Standard, we asked our listeners to tell us about the people in their lives and communities who died in 2014. 

Here are a few of the personal stories we heard during our conversation about memory and meaning.

Charles "Chuck" Gatson
His published obituary stated that Chuck Gatson, born in 1950, was "Kansas City's consummate bridge-builder, diplomat, deal-maker, and confidence-builder." One of his first jobs was bagging groceries at Milgrim's. He would later be recognized as one of the nation's top 25 community development leaders. 

"He was always willing to share of his time as a mentor or as a resource for many in the community, especially those who work in the urban core," says Donovan Mouton.

He also liked to hang out at Jardine's, a live jazz venue, on Thursday nights. 

"There could be political rivals or rivals of any sort," Mouton says. "They'd come there and they were at peace because Chuck was the convener and the conduit and the connector."

Mouton was always impressed that Gatson could do complicated math at lightning speed in his head. He could also get people to discuss politics, and to hash out disagreements in a civil manner, without rancor. 

A congregant at Zion United Church of Christ in Mayview
He grew up in the North End of Kansas City and loved watching boxing on television. He went through a divorce and lost contact with his kids, but then worked hard to restore a connection with his estranged children.

"It's just a beautiful story of reconciliation," said Pastor Kristen Aardema Faigh.

He was in his 80s when he died.

Terrie Marie Peterson Denny
"We share a grandchild," says Katherine Sindt, the mother of Denny's son-in-law.

According to Sindt, Terrie Marie Peterson Denny was a humble philanthropist whose giving was done privately and without fanfare. She created an extended family with the kids in her neighborhood, who were always welcome in her house. For her own children, she kept beautiful scrapbooks. Her ability to stay organized around that task "was always, and is to this day, a goal for me," says Sindt.

Denny was the sole babysitter for each of her grandchildren as they came along for the first year and a half of their lives. She wouldn't allow anyone else to do the job.

When Denny died, her daughter was expecting another child. Sindt says she'll help Denny's grandchildren to remember her.

Horace Washington, jazz musician
This legendary Kansas City musicianwas born in 1951 and died this past October. 

Pam Hider Johnson met Washington when she was in high school, and her brother, only 13 years old at the time, performed with Washington in the Inner City Orchestra. She maintained ties with Washington and several other musicians she met dropping her brother off for his gigs.

Hider Johnson remembers Washington as a vocal person who always spoke up for "jazz people." He also liked to make sure people remembered that Kansas City, Kansas, played a part in the Kansas City jazz story. On stage, Hider Johnson says, he was "even more present, more direct. He commanded his instrument and his instrument never failed him."

His attire was old-school: suits and ties, tuxedos or "jazz casual" — an open shirt with a matching jacket and pants and nice shoes.


Central Standard
People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.