Sharon Joanne (Spencer) Howard, 59, of Overland Park, passed away on August 31 from pancreatic cancer. She was born in Kansas City, MO, on September 3, 1958, to Ronald and Catherine Spencer.
Sharon started playing nurse as a young child by taking her dolls outside and pretending they were in a hospital. After graduating from Raytown High School in 1976, she studied one year at Olivet Nazarene University and then transferred to Avila University to finish her degree as a registered nurse in May of 1981. In 2001 Sharon graduated from Mid American Nazarene University with her MBA.
She started her nursing career at St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was there she was introduced to oncology. She left St. Joseph’s in February of ‘86 to work in the office of a group of oncology doctors. In 1993 she went to work in neurology at Teva Neurosicence. She set up a network of nurses across the nation to train patients how to use injection devices for the drug Copaxone.
In 2011 she decided to go back into oncology and began working as the Survivorship Nurse Navigator at St. Luke’s Cancer Center in Kansas City. She worked there five years and was instrumental in doubling patient participation. In 2015 she received one of three National Sunrise volunteer awards from the Look Good Feel Better program, a national program dedicated to helping women with cancer deal with the appearance side effects of cancer treatment.
Her final job for the past two years was training patients how to use injection devices for self-administration of specialized treatment drugs. Her last patient visit was this summer when she was on the way to her own treatment session. Ultimately she became too weak to continue her work with patients.
Sharon met Ron in a Sunday School class at Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene. They were married on July 14, 1989. She was active in church activities, and taught kindergarten Sunday School for 15 years. She loved being with young children and sharing God’s love with them.
Sharon was an advocate of physical fitness and healthy eating habits. Starting in 1988 she made a commitment to walk every day. She would be sad if for some reason she missed her morning walk.
Sharon enjoyed participating in the Monday night volleyball ministry at church; both playing and providing treats for “cookie break!” There was a time when numbers were low and it was Sharon who encouraged Ron to continue-even for the few.
Ron introduced her to the mountains of his home state of Idaho. She enjoyed hiking in the pine trees of McCall and walking in view of the foothills of Boise. She even learned how to cross country ski.
Sharon loved spending time with her nephews and nieces. She was faithful in attending and cheering loudly at their ball games and school activities, then having them over to the house for cookies or other treats. She was privileged to witness marriages and subsequent new additions to the families.
In 2002, Ron & Sharon adopted a golden retriever. Jay Joy Sisler Howard (J. J.) truly brought joy and companionship into their lives. JJ traveled extensively with them, walked with them daily, was involved in competitive obedience and pet therapy with Pets For Life. JJ was their companion for 13 years.
In 2016 they fell in love with a beautiful golden puppy while on a visit to Idaho. The new golden was named Emme Nell McCall Howard, which was a combination of favorite Idaho towns and Ron’s mother. An Idaho name for an Idaho dog. Sharon loved it. Emme is now two years old and has carried forth the tradition of companionship and caring for Ron and Sharon that was started in grand fashion by JJ.
Sharon’s quick and contagious smile, her kindness to everyone she met, and her subtle sense of humor brought joy to all who knew her. She was a special gift to all of us and we loved her dearly. Although taken too soon from us, our grieving is eased by knowing she is at peace and painfree in Heaven.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Ronald LaVerne Spencer and Catherine Mae Spencer. She is survived by her husband Ronald of Overland Park, sister Susan Mitchell of Overland Park, brother Stephen (Vonda) of Prairie Village, brother-in-law Quentin (Shirley) Howard, sister’s-in-law Marita (Dwight) Douglas and Joanne (Dave) York, ten nephews and nieces from the Spencer family, nine nephews and nieces from the Howard family, numerous great nephews and nieces, and her beloved 4 legged Emme.
In lieu of flowers, gifts would be appreciated in Sharon’s name to either the Volleyball or Children’s Ministries at Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene (http://kcfc.org/give); or, to the national Look Good Feel Better organization (http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/donors/donate/memorial-donation/).
A public visitation will be held on Friday, September 7 from 5 pm to 8 pm, and a funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 8, at 2:30 pm. Both will be held at First Church of the Nazarene, 11811 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO 64114.