Johnna Hale, 49, was calm as the tornado sirens blared over Joplin on May 22. She phoned her daughter; gathered water; corralled her dog, a border collie mix named Star; and hunkered down in the bathtub. But then Star bolted. Out the door, into the storm. And Hale followed.
She called her daughter again in those final, fraught moments — crying, frantic, scrambling — but the connection severed as the tornado bore down on the city. She was found nine days later in the rubble of a building where she took shelter. Star was there with her, in her arms.
In a message to The Kansas City Star, Miranda Hale remembered her mother’s devotion to animals, her dreams left unrealized and the happiness she had begun to find as she closed in on her 50th birthday.
“She worked at F.A.G. Bearings in Joplin; she just received a promotion a couple weeks before, and just celebrated being there for one year,” Miranda Hale wrote. “She was a very hard worker, and the only one F.A.G. lost. I got the chance to visit with them, and they are very kind. I’m glad she worked with such a good company.
“She led a hard life, and the past year she kept telling how she was doing better, turning her life around. When I was at her apartment, I noticed that she had new furniture, new clothes, she had paints and wallpaper, it looked like she was going to fix up her apartment. She lost weight and was eating better. Her 50th birthday is on June 15, and she had told me how she wanted to treat herself for once. I know she wanted to get a nice haircut, and I found some coupons for salons on her table. We talked a couple days before the tornado, she sounded happy, she told me she was going to buy a gate to keep her dog in the patio area, which I found, she bought it on Saturday.
“My mom loved animals. She grew up on horses, we always had a cat or a dog around. We always joked about how our animals were better fed than we were. She had a border collie mix named Star, she was about 6-8 years old. I remember when she got her as a puppy and was really excited, she had adopted an older dog that just passed away, and was feeling sad from that. Star always slept with Mom, even if I went to visit, she had a full sized bed that the three of us, plus a cat, tried to fit on. When they had finally found my mom, they said that Star was in her arms.
“We always dreamed about going to Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone, she always wanted to go the Redwood Forest in California and then driving all the way down Highway 1. When I was little, we loved going to Bodie, Calif., and Virginia City, Nev. She loved Westerns and seeing what the Wild West was always meant a lot to her. She always dreamed about owning a ranch and being a cowgirl, out on the open range on her horse, with her dog, and sleeping under the stars. One of my mom’s favorite movies is “City Slickers,” and I know she wished she could do a cattle run.
“My mom is a simple and humble person. She wanted to make sure everyone around her was happy and everyone got along. Her brother said something the other week and it just has stuck with me, no matter good, bad, or indifferent, she always left an impression on everyone.”Sarah L. Anderson, 47, and William A. “Bill” Anderson
, 53, died in their home. Their son, Quinton, was injured badly. Sarah worked for the Joplin School District, most recently in an administrative role at South Middle School. Bill was the service manager for Office Concepts, an office equipment company in Joplin. Family “was everything” for the couple, said Paul Charron, who worked with Bill and knew both. They were active at church and supportive of Quinton’s athletic efforts. The teen, who is to be a senior at Joplin High School, played football and baseball. Sarah and Bill are survived by Quinton and their daughter Grace, who was not home when the tornado hit.Dale Arsenault,
52, was a drywall technician. He was recovering from a stroke at the Greenbriar nursing home when the tornado hit.
Dorothy C. Bell
, 88, of Joplin, was a teacher, farmer and a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and attended Central City Christian Church. Her hobbies included bird watching, traveling, genealogy and reading, and she was an active member of the Joplin YMCA. She leaves three sons and five grandchildren.Barbara Boyd
, 86, of Joplin, was a resident of the Greenbriar nursing home.Hugh O. Buttram
, 85, of Joplin, was a veteran of World War II and a salesman for more than 50 years in the insurance business. A native of Texas, he was buried at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. He leaves his wife, three daughters, two siblings, five grandchildren and one great-grandson.Shante Marie Caton, 10, and her brother, Trentan Maurice Steven Caton
, 6, both of Joplin. Her father found Shante’s body beside their destroyed home shortly after the tornado. She was an honor roll student at Eastmorland School, participated in Girl Scouts, played the violin, enjoyed dance and liked peace signs. Trentan died the next day at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. He loved all kinds of sports, played tee-ball and had wanted to start basketball. His family described him as a polite boy who was good in school and liked to ride bikes. He was named star of the month at the Boys Girls Club. The siblings are survived by their parents, a sister and three grandparents.
Keenan K. Conger
, 49, of Carl Junction, Mo., died while saving two treasured dogs. While his fiancee, Cheryl Hardin, sought safety in a bathtub and called for Keenan to join her there, Keenan instead continued to try to secure the two dogs, Sissy and Sally. The dogs survived, as did Hardin. Keenan, who in recent years had undergone surgery on his back, enjoyed working on motorbikes.Vicki L. Cooper,
58, of Joplin. No details available.Patricia E. Dawson
, 74, of Joplin. Born in Kansas City. A homemaker, she was a member of the Temple Baptist Church in Springfield. She leaves three sons, three sisters, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
, 75, of Joplin. She died at her home. A homemaker and lifelong Joplin area resident, she loved family time, eating out and shopping. Survivors include two daughters, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, three brothers, two sisters and other relatives.Faith Dunn
, 71, of Joplin. Born in Canada, she came to Joplin to study at Ozark Bible College and stayed. She worked nearly 20 years in the college’s music department. She also taught sign language, enjoyed horses and attended Park Plaza Christian Church. She leaves a sister and other relatives.
Amonda S. Eastwood
, 49, formerly of Miami and Commerce, Okla. She was outside her nursing home when the tornado hit and died as a result of injuries. Eastwood had been a quadriplegic since a car accident in 1997. A registered nurse, she was described by family as a lovable person with a great personality. She loved people, was a good friend and had a beautiful smile. Survivors include her father and mother, one son, two daughters, three sisters, three grandchildren and other relatives.Mark L. Farmer
, 56, of Joplin, died May 26. On a memorial website for tornado victims, one person wrote: “Mark was an amazing man who always had a smile on his face. He will be missed greatly.”Robert Fitzgerald
, 61, of Joplin, died at home. He worked for Walmart for more than 27 years. A Vietnam veteran and avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, he loved reading, collecting music and dressing up as Santa Claus during the holidays. Fitzgerald was a 10-year cancer survivor. He is survived by his wife, his brother, two sisters and other relatives.
, 61, of Battlefield, Mo., died June 3. Born in Kansas City, he was a graduate of Raytown South High School. He worked more than 18 years for Wickman Gardens. He enjoyed restoring cars, especially Ford Mustangs. He leaves his wife, a daughter, three stepchildren and four grandchildren.Leola Hardin
. Name released Friday by Joplin officials. No details available.Dorothy V. Hartman
, 91, of Joplin, died in the arms of her husband of 70 years while receiving rehab at the Greenbriar nursing home. A homemaker, she was a longtime member of Bethel Methodist Church, south of Carthage. An excellent cook and seamstress, she enjoyed crocheting and quilting. Hartman was described as having lots of friends and as someone who “couldn’t be beat.” Her last words were “I love you” to her husband. She also leaves a daughter, two granddaughters, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and other relatives.
Dee A. Hayward
, 47, of Galena, Kan. Born in Glendora, Calif., she had lived in Galena since 1977. For the past four years, she had worked for Hallmark Cards maintaining displays in area Walmart stores. She was a member of Riverton Friends Church of Riverton, Kan., and a former Sunday school teacher. She traveled to Brazil and Jamaica on missionary trips. She loved music. She leaves her husband, two sons, one daughter, her mother, two brothers, one sister and other relatives.Judy R. Head
, 56, of Joplin. No other details available.Kenneth J. Henson
, 56, of Joplin. No details available.Charlotte Hopwood
, 84, of Joplin. Someone posted May 30 on an online memorial page: “Charlotte you are missed greatly. I tell people who ask about you that you were A Groovy Hip Ole Chic.”Iona Hull
, 70, of Carthage, Mo. Born in Meade, Kan. She was a homemaker and member of the Joplin Full Gospel Church. Survivors include two daughters, one brother, two sisters, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.Kathy S. Keling
, 53, of Joplin. A native of Springfield, she was active in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “The love she showed her family will remain inside them forever,” her obituary said. She leaves two children, five grandchildren and other relatives.
James “David” Kendrick
, 63, of Joplin. A Vietnam veteran, he worked for 40 years with explosives at Atlas Powder and its successors. He retired in 2010. He enjoyed fishing and went on an annual fishing trip with friends for more than 40 years. He also prospected for gold in Alaska and was a member of the Gold Prospecting Association of America. He was a member of the Elks Club, where he died. Survivors include seven siblings, a daughter and a grandson.Tedra Jewell Kuhn,
69, of Joplin, was a homemaker. Grandson Brandon Getz said she was always happy and enjoyed her family and going to the casino. “She never had a bad thing to say about anybody, even if she rightfully knew in her head there was something wrong with them,” he said. She leaves two sons and a sister, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren.Patricia Mann,
64, of Joplin. No information available.Lorna “Kay” Miller,
72, of Joplin, liked to sew and read. She loved nature, particularly bird watching, and was a member of East Joplin Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She leaves two siblings, a daughter and two grandchildren.Suzanne M. Mock
, 38, of Forsyth, Mo. She leaves a husband, two daughters and two grandchildren.Edith “Edie” Louise Moore
, 48, was a homemaker and native of Columbus, Kan., who had lived in Joplin for several years. Her brother Herman Froelich remembered her devotion to her two children — he called them her “greatest passion” — and her love of cats that she adopted. She also enjoyed reading poetry.
Estrellita “Ester” M. Moore,
64, of Joplin, was born in the Philippines. She was a hairdresser at J.C. Penney and was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She loved going to the casino.Sally Moulton,
58, of Joplin. Moulton was in a theater troupe that had been performing “I Remember Mama” at the Stained Glass Theater just before the tornado struck. Moulton was playing the role of Aunt Jenny. She was a graduate of Mascoutah High School in Mascoutah, Ill., where she worked at a nursing home before moving to Joplin.
Georgia Nadine Mulkey
, 91, of Joplin. Died June 1. A lifelong Joplin area resident, she had worked in food service and was a member of First Baptist Church. She leaves four children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Edmond V. Mullaney
, 82, of Hollister, Mo. Born in Michigan, he had served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a member of the Knights of Columbus and Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. He leaves his wife, sister and brother.Sharyl Anyssa Nelsen
, 34, of Webb City, Mo. She died at the AT store, where she worked. “She was happy all the time, very caring, very generous,” said husband Chad Nelsen. “She would help anybody.” She was passionate about music and had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of bands, he said. She did a lot of traveling while younger and once attended high school in Budapest, Hungary. In later life, she went to Missouri Southern State University, at one point to study criminal justice. She leaves a husband and three children.
William Richard “Will” Norton
, 18, of Joplin, was driving with his father when they were struck by the tornado. Norton, who had graduated from Joplin High School a few hours earlier, was thrown or sucked out through the sunroof and was found in a pond a few days later, ending an agonizing search by family and friends. He was active on Twitter and YouTube, where he had many followers, and volunteered in the community. He leaves his parents and a sister.
Shirley Ann Parker
, 68, of Joplin, retired in 2008 after a long career as a mammography technician in Albuquerque, N.M. She leaves a son, a daughter and six grandchildren.Nichole Pearish
, 23, of Joplin, died June 4 at a Columbia hospital. A 2006 graduate of Sarcoxie High School, she was a customer service supervisor with Aegis Communications, a member of the Route 66 Cloggers and a member of First Baptist Church of Sarcoxie. She leaves her parents, six brothers, one sister and other relatives.
Mary J. Perry,
76, of Joplin. A lifetime area resident, she worked for the C.J. Uniform Shop and previously had worked for Prudential Insurance and KODE-TV.Anna Pettek
, 91, of Joplin, was a resident of the Greenbriar nursing home.
, 39, of Joplin, was a resident of the Meadows Care Center. Weakened by cancer, he died a day after the tornado from apparent psychological trauma related to the storm, according to Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges.Darlene K. Ray
, 63, of Galena, Kan., was a former King Louie Manufacturing seamstress. She died June 1.Cayla Ann Selsor Robinson
, 64, of Joplin, died June 4. A lifetime area resident and homemaker, she attended Frisco Church in Webb City and later Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin. She leaves three daughters, one son, a brother, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
died in early June. No other details were available.Thomas Sarino
, 75, of Joplin. A naturalized American citizen, he lived alone in a Joplin apartment. His family lives in the Philippines. He had worked for Warner Brother Inc.’s finance department in New York before moving to Joplin in 1995 to work in finance for the Loma Linda Golf Resort. He was retired.Tonya L. “Toni” Sawyer
, 41, of Fort Scott, Kan. A newlywed, she worked at Taco Bell in Fort Scott and enjoyed painting, collecting antiques and writing short stories and poems. An animal lover, she often took in strays. She attended Apostolic Pentecostal Church. She leaves her husband, four children, her father, siblings and other relatives.Frances A. Scates
, 70, died in her Joplin home. A Freistatt, Mo., native who formerly lived in Monett, Mo., she attended St. John’s Lutheran Church in Freistatt. Survivors include two sons, three daughters, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.Judy Lee Smith
, 71, spent most of her life in Joplin and was once the owner and operator of the Second Hand Rose consignment store. Daughter Nikki Oliver said Smith had always been scared of tornadoes and even built a storm cellar after a one hit in the 1970s. She was at the Greenbriar nursing home during the May 22 tornado and died after being transported first to a hospital in Pittsburg, Kan., and then to a nursing home in Cassville. She is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Luther Gene Smith
, 71, of Joplin, lived in the area his entire life and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for 24 years. A Navy veteran, he also served 29 years with the National Guard and the Naval Reserve. He enjoyed bowling, football and baseball. He leaves a wife, two children and three grandchildren.Nicholaus A. Smith
, 23, of Joplin, was known to friends by the name “Chill.”Shyrell L. Smith
, 68, of Pittsburg, Kan. A registered nurse, she was headed to work at Freeman East Hospital when the tornado hit.Betty Stogsdill
, 83, of Joplin, died June 8. The holder of two master’s degrees, she taught high school in Chicago before moving to Joplin in 1994 and extending her career as a substitute teacher. She attended Forest Park Baptist Church.Ralph Gilbert Stover
, 85, of Joplin, died June 3 of injuries suffered at St. John’s Hospital. The native of Columbus, Kan., started Stover’s Floor Covering in 1970 and ran it until retiring in 2001. The First United Methodist Church member loved woodworking and gardening. He leaves his wife, a son, two daughters, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and other relatives.Gregan D. Sweet
, 59, of Joplin, was at the Pizza Hut with his wife when the tornado hit, according to his son’s Facebook posting. His wife survived.Douglas Williams,
52, of Purdy, Mo., died June 3. Born and raised in Texas, he moved to Purdy in 2005. He enjoyed gardening, raising horses and time with his dog, Tuff. He leaves his wife, a daughter, four stepdaughters and other relatives.Regina Mae Bloxham Williams
, 55, of Joplin, grew up in Nevada and moved to Missouri in 1992, first living in Carthage and then Joplin. She worked for AT as a customer service representative. She leaves her husband, three daughters, two sons, two grandchildren and other relatives.Charles W. Writer, 74, of Purdy, Mo. After serving 10 years in the Navy, he worked for Pryor Motor Co. before running his own companies, including a gas station and High Point Trucking Co. He leaves his wife, four sons, four daughters, 18 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.