In Memory of

Joan Lee Nowak

August 17, 1933 - January 5, 2024


After a remarkable three-year battle with brain cancer, Joan L. Nowak, 90, of Lee’s Summit, MO, passed peacefully to eternal life on January 5, 2024. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Jerome Nowak; son Steven Nowak, of Lawrence, KS; daughter, Susan Ratigan (Brian) of Lee’s Summit; four grandchildren, Aaron Ingram-Ratigan (Tass) of Kansas City, MO, Dan Ratigan (Sara) of Raymore, MO, Hannah Williamson (Jake) of Louisville, KY, and Matthew Ratigan; a great-granddaughter, Amelia Ratigan; and older brother, Dominic Polczynski, Jr., of Freeburg, IL.

Joan was born August 17, 1933, the only daughter of Susan (Wisniewski) and Dominic Polczynski, Sr. of DuBois, IL. She was a 1951 graduate of Nashville (IL) High School. In 1953, Joan graduated from the Washington University School of Medicine’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, becoming the first woman to head the Institute’s pediatric X-ray department. She maintained her registration as an X-ray technician until 2012.

On June 29, 1957, she wed Jerome “Jerry” Nowak at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in DuBois and embraced her role as wife and mother. The couple settled first in Dellwood, MO and later in St. Peters. Devoted to her family’s well-being and her children’s education, Joan was an active volunteer serving as room mother, den mother, and school nurse during her children’s years in elementary school. In later years, Joan and Jerry loved to travel, often visiting Estes Park, CO, a favorite place. Joan enjoyed crafts and quilting and served as Eucharistic Minister at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church in St. Charles, MO and later at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Lee’s Summit. Community service was an important concern for her. She volunteered at the Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service, did other parish volunteer work, and championed efforts to support new mothers in need. Joan and Jerry moved from St. Peters to Lee’s Summit in 2006, to be nearer to their four grandchildren. The focus of her love and attention, her grandchildren brought vitality to her later years, as she looked forward to attending school performances, sporting events, graduations, and, eventually, weddings.

Joan will be laid to rest on January 11, 2024 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Lee’s Summit. Visitation will be at 10:00 a.m.; the rosary will be prayed at 10:45 with a funeral Mass immediately following at 11:00.  A private burial service will be held on Friday, January 12 at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Higginsville.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joan’s memory to the John Knox Village Foundation (, 400 NW Murray Road, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081. The family requests that donations be designated for the resident activities department at the Village Care Center on the check’s memorandum line.

Arrangements by Langsford Funeral Home, 115 SW 3rd Street, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063


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Uncle Jerome, Steven, Susan and family,
Extending our deepest sympathy and condolences on your loss of Aunt Joanie. I know your hearts are broken and that will miss her terribly. May you feel all the love and prayers that we are sending your way and May she be resting in eternal peace in the arms of our Lord.

Love and hugs,
Mark and Lori.

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this somber time. Your mom was an amazing woman. She always welcomed us into your home with a smile. My memories of her are all precious and bring joy.

I was told a story that when I was a baby my Aunt Joanie had volunteered to take me. I’m not sure of the details of this story, and I never asked her about it, but I felt that there must have been something special about me to have an aunt that loved me that much. I know my aunt loved me and I love her. She is with Granny and Grandpa and my dad and I’m pretty sure they will be looking out for the rest of us together from heaven. My sympathies to my cousins (Susie and Steve), my uncles (Jerry and Dominic), and the rest of our family during this time of loss.

With Love,


Thursday, January 11, 2024
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
1800 SW State Route 150
Lees Summit, MO 64082


Thursday, January 11, 2024
11:00 AM Mass
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
1800 SW State Route 150
Lees Summit, MO 64082