May 31, 1928 ~ February 28, 2019
Born in: Chicago, Illinois
Resided in: Lakewood, Colorado
Grace G. Kimak, 90, passed away peacefully in her home in Lakewood, Colorado, on Thursday, February 28, 2019, following a swift battle with acute myeloid leukemia. She was supported and comforted by her loving family and caregivers during the last days of her life.
Grace was born on May 31,1928 in Chicago, Illinois to parents John and Della Gratkins, a WWI Veteran and tailor with Hart Schaffner Marx, and a city hospital nurse, bothdeceased. She graduated from Loretto Academy in 1946, married, and had two children.
She worked as an elementary school teacher from the Midwest to Florida where she met Robert Kimak, an aerospace engineer. They married on August 11, 1967, creating a blended family of seven children. After living in Orlando and Huntsville, Alabama while Robert worked on the Skylab project, they moved to Colorado and were happily married for 38 years until his death in 2005.
Grace graduated from Rollins College in 1973, with honors, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She was a board member for Metro State College and Denver Public Schools, among other affiliations. Grace received her Master of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 1985.
Having experience from classroom to board, Grace a vision to offer parents a unique choice in education, and started her own private K-8 school.
With the support of many friends, parents and colleagues, she founded St. John’s Academy in 1981 in Denver, Colorado, funding its start with her own finances. The school was dedicated to “creating a community in which each child can experience the values of acceptance, love, sharing, and caring”. Located within the marble halls of St. John’s Cathedral at 1313 Clarkson Street, SJA opened with an initial enrollment of about 140 students.
In 1986, SJA relocated to 930 Acoma Street. The school thrived in its central Denver home, remaining there for nine years. In 1995, SJA became Montclair Academy and relocated to the Lowry campus as one of its first tenants. Grace Kimak Hall was named in her honor. She left the school in 1997 and was principal of Littleton Academy before retiring from her career in 1999.
Grace was a leader, mentor and beloved friend to a brilliant cadre of educators, colleagues, parents and students for 40 years. Through her inspiration and generosity, Grace encouraged the personal growth of others and their career paths. Countless students and parents passed through the doors each school year, and many kept in touch with her long after graduation.
Remarkably, Grace found time on her weekends to become a licensed private pilot and was a Squadron Commander and Captain with the Civil Air Patrol in the 1980s. She and Robert, also a pilot, flew Cessna aircraft on search and rescue missions. They learned to sail, and, while in their seventies, scuba. Avid travelers, they visited many countries with family and friends.
After retirement, Grace was involved in several groups including the PEO Organization. which promotes educational opportunities for women worldwide, and the Widowed Men & Women of America, which provides social outreach for surviving spouses. Grace is survived by her children and their spouses, Sandra (Randal) Damiana, Robert (Cornelia Burns) Stewart, Elizabeth (Richard Henderlight) Kimak; stepchildren and their families; grandchildren Alex Damiana and Catherine Stewart; Shana (Robert) Armentano, and great grandson Bryce; her loving brother John “Jack” Gratkins; and niece and nephew, Eileen Gratkins and John Gratkins.
A Celebration of Grace’s life will be held from 2-3:30p, on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in the reception room at Horan & McConaty located at 3101 S. Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood, Colorado.
The family is creating a scholarship fund in Grace’s honor. To help with memorial contributions, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/GraceGKimakScholarshipFund