Gary Cataldi, April 10, 1947, to June 5, 2022.
Cheryl Cataldi, April 21, 1947, to August 3, 2023.
On April 10th, 1947, Gary Alan Cataldi was born in Pennsylvania. Just 11 days later, on April 21st, 1947, nearly 1,000 miles away, Cheryl Ann Morris was born in Kansas City, MO. They would later meet in Springfield, MO while attending Southwest Missouri State University and would marry in August 1969 after both graduated. They would spend the early days of their marriage living in the Kansas City area and establishing careers while trying to start a family. That dream became a reality when they adopted their first child, Kristen Elizabeth (Cataldi) Flores, in 1974. Two years later they would complete their family by adopting their second child, Daniel Paul Cataldi, in 1976.
Cheryl was an English major and as such was an avid reader who loved old movies. As the family moved several times around the KC area before settling in Olathe, one of the first places Cheryl was certain to go in a new community was the library. She never turned down a request from one of her kids to go get more books. Cheryl focused on being a mom. Her career consisted of jobs that allowed her to be there for her kids and make sure they got where they needed to be, which was a job in itself with all of the kids’ activities. She worked as a case worker, paraprofessional in the Olathe School District, and taught intellectually and developmentally disabled adults at Johnson County Community College. Those that knew her understand why she was drawn to these jobs—she was a caring and empathetic person who loved working with people to overcome challenges.
Gary built a career in sales, which was a perfect fit for someone who loved to talk with people and learn their stories. He could strike up a conversation with anyone and genuinely enjoyed listening, and he somehow always found the right question to ask to learn more. He was a big sports fan, especially of the Chiefs and Royals, and he passed that love on to his kids. He also adopted his kids’ favorite teams, like K-State and Coffeyville Community College where his son-in-law was the head football coach, as his own. Like Cheryl, he prioritized his kids’ activities and rarely missed a sporting event, school function, or other opportunities to see his kids do things they enjoyed. He made certain his family came first.
Affectionately known as Gar and Cher by their kids’ friends, they made their home welcoming to all. Scores of Olathe kids spent time in the Cataldi house talking with them, often in ways they couldn’t talk to their own parents. It was not uncommon for Kristen or Daniel to come home to find one or more of their friends sitting at the table talking to Cheryl or in the family room watching TV with Gary…or on at least one occasion, answering the phone when Daniel called home from college. To Gary and Cheryl, this is the most important legacy they leave behind. They built a home that was welcoming and trusted and were able to create a space in which everyone felt comfortable. They both loved interacting with others, offering advice when appropriate, or just listening when needed. They were incredibly proud of their children and who they became as people much more so than their accomplishments.
Gary and Cheryl are survived by what they often called their pride and joy, their children Kristen Flores and Daniel Cataldi, and their grandchildren Ryann and Haley Flores and Elliott and Maya Cataldi. They also loved their son-in-law, Aaron Flores, who preceded them in death, and daughter-in-law, Emily. They welcomed both to the family like their own children, always taking an interest in everything they did.
Kristen and Daniel and families will host a gathering of friends and family at Penwell-Gabel’s Olathe Chapel on Saturday, October 14th, 2023, from 2:00 – 4:00pm.
Gary and Cheryl were passionate supporters of St. Jude’s Children’s hospital; they made monthly donations for years, even when money was tight. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to their memorial fund at St. Jude’s
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