Burl R. Gratny, 94, of Tonganoxie, KS, passed away early Sunday morning, April 26, 2020, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Burl was born on Nov. 30, 1925, in Kansas City, Kansas, the son of E. George and Lenora Gratny. He grew up in the Kansas City, Kansas, area, close to 18th and Walker, graduating from Wyandotte High School in 1943.
With his father owning Gratny Drug Stores in various areas of Kansas City, Kansas, Burl worked from an early age helping his dad. His early jobs included home deliveries, soda-jerking, curb-hopping, and even hauling ice in a wagon, for which his mother paid him 5 cents a delivery.
Upon high school graduation, Burl enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Reserve. While waiting for assignment he helped his dad in his new drug store located on Southwest Boulevard in Rosedale. It was there that he met his future wife, Connie Lee Wall. They were married on Dec. 22, 1946, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary before her death in 2007.
Burl was called into active duty on Dec. 18, 1943. After basic training and assignments at various army bases, he was selected for pilot training in 1944 and then selected for advanced training on B-25’s in the summer of 1945. He graduated from flight school as a Second Lieutenant in September of 1945, just one month after the conclusion of World War II.
From childhood Burl loved all things mechanical, electrical, and gas driven. He had passion and talent for problem-solving, construction, and remodeling such as building “Soap-Box Derby” coasting cars before his teens, a jig saw when he was 10, and buying and restoring bicycles considered by others to be lost causes. He was drawn to drafting, woodworking, metals, and auto mechanics at Northwest Junior High and Wyandotte. All of these skills would be put to great use in his adult years and in guiding his two sons in many projects, large and small, including building their own dune buggy and a catamaran boat. He was the “go-to-man” for his entire family when anything needed repair or involved any form of construction or detailed planning.
Following his army discharge, Burl took advantage of the K.C. School of Refrigeration and later the Finley School of Engineering, working in refrigeration service, sales, and management for Bird Electric Shop, Natkin Co., McQueeney- Cain, and U.S. Engineering. Burl retired from U.S. Engineering in 1985 but never stopped constructing, problem-solving, or serving as the “lead-engineer” for his sons, grandchildren, and extended family. His wise counsel and generous spirit continues to be valued by all who had the joy of knowing him well.
Burl was a man of quiet but deep faith. He was an active leader in the Southridge Presbyterian Church, Roeland Park, until he and Connie moved to Basehor, Kansas, where they joined the Basehor United Methodist Church. He also served on the Basehor City Council before moving to Tonganoxie in 2005.
His favorite hobby was buying and selling cars and trucks—all for his own personal use. His final purchase was his 70th vehicle, which he drove home less than 5 days before his death.
Burl was preceded in death by his parents, E. George and Lenora Gratny, his brother Paul, infant brothers George Jr. and Ralph, Grandson Kyle Lee Gratny, and wife of over 60 years, Connie Wall Gratny.
He will be greatly missed by his family: sons Mark (Linda) of Leavenworth and Richard (Annette) of Paris, TX; his grandchildren Kelly Gratny Carlson (Eric), Maggie Gratny Young (Austin), Dusten Gratny (Kim), Cody Gratny (Mindy), Trisa Gratny; eight great-grandchildren; and many dear friends and extended family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Basehor United Methodist Church.