Grace Elizabeth Balkey
April 29, 1932 - March 19, 2020
Grace Elizabeth Balkey, age 87 of Webb City, passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 19, 2020. She was born to Clayton Emery Purdy and Millie Gladys Purdy on April 29, 1932 in Toronto, Canada. She spent many carefree summers at the family home on Sixteen Island Lake in Quebec. An avid lover of the water, Grace became a member of the Longueil Rowing Club and competed with a crew of 13 other women paddlers in rowing competitions across the province of Quebec.
Drawn to adventure, Grace became an air woman in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve Forces #1 Radar and Communications Air Unit. While in Norway in 1956, she met and later married Percy Collins, a captain in the United States Air Force. Grace moved to the United States in 1961 but loyally retained her Canadian citizenship until her death. Residing in Kansas City, Missouri, she and her husband owned and operated two businesses. The first, Percy’s Tavern, which served as the catalyst to many dear friendships she maintained for the rest of her life and the second, Spencer Window Company. It was in Kansas City that she began her most cherished work as a devoted, loving, and selfless mother to three children – Dean, Dawn and Jamie. In 1980, Grace moved to El Paso, Texas where she attended college and was employed as a financial aid counselor at the University of Texas – UTEP. She shared her love of music by singing in the choir as a member of the University Presbyterian Church. Grace’s family grew exponentially when, in 1985, she met and married Paul Balkey, the father of eight children. The two were married until his death in 2012.Grace returned to Missouri in 2017 and lived independently at Foxberry Terrace. During her three years in Webb City, she easily made numerous new friends and cherished the time she was given to spend with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The word “grace” commonly refers to a polite and thoughtful way of behaving and this definition could not more accurately describe our mother. She placed the utmost importance on acknowledging everyone by name and thanking them for even the simplest act. Grace was loved by everyone who was fortunate enough to know her. Her legacy is recognizing the magic in connection. She would tell us to take the time to listen. It’s so easy to hurry through life, but it’s over too quickly and there is so much to learn and enjoy when you stop and take in the stories that are shared with you.
Grace is survived by two sons, Dean Collins, Grain Valley, Missouri and James Collins, Raytown, Missouri and two stepsons, Danny Balkey, Penrose, Colorado and Jim Balkey, Social Circle, Georgia. One daughter, Dawn Collins-Oney, Webb City, Missouri and three stepdaughters, Kathy Clements and Mary Shaffer, Urbana, Illinois and Beth Perrino, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Grace is further adored by thirty grandchildren and twenty-nine great-grandchildren as well as additional family and friends in the states, Canada and abroad.
She was preceded in death by her parents and only sister, Joan Hamilton, husbands Percy Collins and Paul Balkey as well as stepdaughter Lee Schmitz, stepsons Ed Balkey, Paul Balkey, Jr. and two granddaughters.
Sadly, current global health concerns require us to postpone a celebration of her remarkable life. Grace would simply ask that we love one another and cherish the gift of family. Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be directed to The Nature Conservancy in her honour. Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Simpson Funeral Home in Webb City. Visit www.simpsonfh.com for online condolences.