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Joe Grilliot passed away peacefully at home on January 27 surrounded by his family. He had many roles during his lifetime but will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.
Rosary and visitation will be at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 1001 East 52nd Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64110 at 5 pm on Friday, January 30. Funeral mass will be at 10 am at Saint Francis Xavier. In lieu of flowers, send donations to Unbound.org
Joe was born on January 26, 1932 in Syracuse, Kansas to James and Barbara Grilliot. He told frequent stories about growing up on a farm during the Depression and Dust Bowl. After his father’s death in 1945, he went to a seminary in Brunnerdale, Ohio and was ordained a Precious Blood priest in 1959. After serving as a priest in Vinita, Oklahoma and Cleveland, Ohio he volunteered to become a missionary priest in Chile in 1963. Working in rural communities in southern Chile, Joe “fell in love with the people of Chile”. He was well loved by the people he worked with. In 1970, he felt that he could serve the Church and the poor better as a layperson.
On September 11, 1971 he married Lidia del Carmen Seguel in Chile and then they moved to Kansas City where they spent their married life together. Joe worked as a warehouseman for 19 years raising two sons, Marvin and Charlie. He and Lidia also opened their home to several other people over the years. He often only half-jokingly said that Lidia saved his life several times – physically and spiritually. He worked hard in his vegetable garden, roto-tilling and cutting grass. Additionally, he always found ways to help others including recycling cans for churches, helping resettle recently arrived immigrants and refugees and using assorted trailers and pick-ups to be helpful. He was committed to social justice in many ways working for peace through nuclear disarmament and his intentional choices to live simply and be hospitable to others.
In 1991 he began working at Unbound (formerly Christian Foundation for Children and Aging) where he served as a homeless shelter supervisor and all around building man. He retired in 2001 but maintained his relationship with Unbound through sponsorship, friendship and riding his tricycle to the volunteer center. After his retirement Joe stayed active travelling (he always visited people not places), and praying and volunteering at Holy Family Catholic Worker House.
He was a long-time member of St. Francis Xavier Church. After the death of Lidia and Charlie in 2009, he moved in with his son Marvin, daughter in law Rachel and his three grandchildren Samuel (10), Benjamin (7) and Magdalena (5). Tata was adored by his three grand-children. They loved playing and joking with him and listening to his stories about the “olden days”. He was always creative and practical making many things like chess pieces from nuts and bolts, bicycle racks from PVC pipes and coat hooks from high heel shoes. In various ways, he supported ministries of those working with the poor and for justice until his death.
He kept a feverish correspondence with many people on his manual typewriter from which he also wrote poetry and stories. Joe was a person of many talents and interests and was always open to learning. His deep faith led him to action and contemplation and to live life well and confront death fearlessly. He had a wonderful sense of humor, was loyal and faithful in his relationships, a devoted servant to the poor and a passionate environmentalist. He brought people together, he was a bridge builder. Many will remember his humility, farmer hands, bright blue eyes and love for a good meal and celebration. In all things, he was “un buen pobre”.
He is preceded in death by his brother Jimmy and many others and will be missed by his sisters Ann Smith, Mary Gerard, Zita Brummel and brother Tom and many others. Among so many others, the family would like to thank Kansas City Hospice and Unbound for their support.