Harry Calvin "Junie" Pendergraft Jr., 94, of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, passed away peacefully on September 23, 2021, at Chase County Care and Rehabilitation Center. Junie was born on April 22, 1927, on the family farm southeast of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. He was the oldest of two children born to Harry C. Pendergraft Sr. and Margaret I. (Fillmore) Pendergraft.
Junie’s primary education began in a one room country schoolhouse, riding on horseback every day. In all four of his high school years he was a member of Future Farmers of America, played basketball, and was a member of Hi-Y, a club associated with the YMCA aiming to promote high standards of Christian character. Junie held leading roles in the school's plays during his Junior and Senior years, and was Junior Class President. He graduated from Chase County Community High School in 1945, joined the Kansas National Guard serving as company clerk for the National Guard Medical Detachment under Dr. Leo McKee.
In August, 1952, Junie enlisted in the Army, receiving basic training at Ft. Riley. He was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division until his discharge in June, 1954. During his time of service he saw action in Korea, and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Bronze Service Stars.
On July 28, 1963, he married Waneta Louise Gerken at Messiah Lutheran Church, Emporia. The couple resided in Emporia for a short time, with Junie farming alongside his father. After several years Junie and Waneta moved to the Pendergraft family's farmstead in Cottonwood Falls where they farmed together until retiring in 2017. They shared 58 years of marriage before her death on November 2, 2020.
Junie was a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Strong City, Kansas. He was an active member in the community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Strong City State Bank for 18 years, president of the Chase County Cattlemen’s Association for one year, on the FFA board for three years, and an active member of the Pork Producers Association.
He was preceded in death by his father in 1993, his mother in 1996, his sister Ruth Mary (Pendergraft) Gilbert in 2020, and his beloved wife in 2020; brothers-in-law, Jack Sparks and James Caffey; nephew, Robert Wheeler Sr. and grandnephew, Robert Wheeler II. Junie is survived by sisters-in-law, Joan Caffey and Dorothy Sparks; cousins, Charles McCabe, Dale McCabe, William Fillmore; nieces and nephews, Carla Gilbert, Mary "Belinda" (Gilbert) Wheeler, Mark Caffey, Jim Caffey, Cheryl (Caffey) Rollen, Debra (Caffey) Cullen, Lori (Sparks) Zimpfer, Jackie Sparks-Lecki, and Johnny Sparks. He is also survived by sixteen grand nieces and nephews: Sara (Wheeler) Andrews, Tyler Gilbert, Aaron and Rachel Zimpfer, Cody and Derek Caffey, Ian, Michaela, and Jack Lecki, Blake and Cole Rollen, Casey and Brody Cullen, Mira, Matilda and Isadora Sparks.
When we remember Junie, we will think of his undying devotion to farming the land and raising livestock, his fondness for green olives, sweets, and chocolate (especially Hershey Chocolate Bars), his ornery sense of humor, and the story of “his” or Waneta’s? record setting deer. He told of how his work ethic developed on the farm at the age of three bringing in kindling for the stove, his responsibilities growing as he grew. He would eagerly answer in-depth, and sometimes with a twinkle of humor in his eyes, the many questions about farming asked by his city-raised relatives - especially grandnieces and grandnephews. He happily treated the latter to cherished four-wheeler rides around the farm every Easter. Junie’s legacy is in his stewardship of the land he loved, and his passion for its preservation. He was very loved and had the strong admiration of many. We are richer because of his influence in our lives, he will be deeply missed.
Graveside services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, October 3, 2021, at the Bazaar Cemetery, Bazaar, Kansas, with Reverend Clifford Winter officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Grace Lutheran Church or Hand in Hand Hospice, in care of Brown-Bennett-Alexander Funeral Home, P.O. Box 220 Cottonwood Falls, Kansas 66845.
The family wishes to thank the Chase County Care and Rehabilitation Center for their exemplary and loving care the past four years.
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