John Wiley Booth

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November 1st, 1934 – April 23rd, 2024

John Wiley Booth, a gifted jazz trumpeter, former TWA analyst, and beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died recently from complications of cancer at his home in Roeland Park, Kansas surrounded by family. He was 89.

John, who died on the evening of April 23, 2024, was the epitome of health until his metastatic prostate cancer diagnosis nearly six years ago. Following this diagnosis, he endured numerous treatments and interventions, which thankfully had little to no impact on his quality of life until the final few months when the cancer, its treatments, and time eventually took their toll.

John was born the son of Wiley Ross and Mary Cecil Booth on November 1, 1934, in Sedalia, Missouri, where he spent his formative years on the family farm. It was there that John developed a strong work ethic, taking care of cattle and pigs and bailing hay while attending elementary school at Quisenberry School, a one-room schoolhouse in Pettis County, Missouri. Here, he also cultivated his enduring love for the trumpet, beginning at age 7.

After graduating from Smith Cotton High School, John joined the Army, where he was a member of the 5th Army Band and performed for numerous radio broadcasts and in a parade for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During his time in the Army, he also attended the Navy School of Music in Washington, DC. He was stationed at the Presidio of Monterey, California; Fort Sheridan north of Chicago; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Carson, Colorado.

Following his service, John earned a BA in Music Education from Northern Colorado University in Greeley, Colorado. It was there that John met the love of his life, Karen (Roberts), on a fateful blind date. On that first date, their immediate adoration was fueled by a realization of their mutual passion for jazz. Their union in 1960 marked the beginning of a marriage filled with love and adventure that lasted more than 63 years.

After graduating, John initially pursued a career as a band instructor in Barnard, Missouri, followed by Winthrop, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, John and Karen moved to Kansas City, where they welcomed and raised their two children, Chris and Jennifer. John soon discovered his true calling in the burgeoning field of computer science when he was hired as a systems analyst at Trans World Airlines (TWA). Despite no formal training in computer science, his natural abilities propelled him to excel at TWA for more than 35 years, shaping a career that opened doors to unforgettable family adventures around the world.

John’s true passion, though, lay in jazz music; he was a gifted trumpeter whose melodic notes resonated throughout the Kansas City area. His love for jazz was a cornerstone of his life shared joyfully with his family through music-filled weekends and memorable performances at local venues and jazz festivals.

John is preceded in death by his parents Mary and Wiley, and his sister Mary Ruth Ray. He is survived by Karen, his wife of 63 years, younger brother William (Barbara) of Santa Barbara, California, and his children Christopher Booth (Nancy), of Shawnee, Kansas, and Jennifer Kemp (Nicholas) of Denver, Colorado. He leaves behind his beloved grandchildren Nick, Jack, and Alison Booth, and Wiley and Genevive Kemp.

John will be remembered for his calm demeanor, sarcastic chuckles, and his quest for good times which endeared him to all who knew him. His passion for jazz was only surpassed by his unparalleled devotion to his family, exemplifying traits of respect, love, and dedication as a son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather.

Please join us for a celebration of John’s life where memories will be shared and jazz will be heard on May 26, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Powell Community Center in Mission, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, we recommend donations to the John Booth Memorial Fund to support local musicians in need: KC Jazz Ambassadors, P.O. Box 36181, Kansas City, MO 64171.

As we bid farewell to John, we hold dear the memories of his enduring legacy and the indelible mark he left on our hearts. Rest easy, John Wiley Booth.

Obituary published by Cremation Center of Kansas City.

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