Peter McCaffrey, 79

Published 3:12 pm Monday, September 18, 2023

Peter McCaffrey, 79

Peter McCaffrey, 79, passed away peacefully at home on September 14, 2023. Peter was born on September 1, 1944, to Ralph (“Pete”) and Marietta McCaffrey. The youngest child and only son, Peter enjoyed his status as the family favorite. Peter was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Miki Gemmel; he is survived by his sister Erin Gross.

Peter was born and raised in Austin, Minnesota where his parents worked for Hormel Foods. Peter’s business acumen began at an early age. By the time he was fifteen years old, Peter was managing the local A&W drive-in and, thanks to an owner who also collected cars, got his first company car as a sophomore in high school-a 1955 Corvette Stingray. The Stingray sparked Peter’s lifelong enthusiasm for cars and road trips. Peter spent summers selling root beers and winters selling Christmas trees out of the drive-in parking lot. During the school years, Peter played the trumpet in the high school pep band (and the Austin Symphony) and was known to skip school on occasion when the weather was right and there was fun to be had.

Peter graduated from Pacelli High School in 1962. After high school, Peter-to his mother’s great delight-attended the seminary program at St. Mary’s College. Peter left the program after one year and, after a stint at Austin Junior College, accepted a job with 3M as a Sales Correspondent in Minneapolis. By this time, Peter was engaged to the love of his life, Rosemary Kenney. But his future mother-in-law was not pleased that her daughter, who had a college degree, intended to marry someone without one. A quick study, Peter declined a promotion opportunity at 3M, quit his job, and earned a degree in Marketing at St. Cloud State University. While the degree satisfied his mother-in-law, the key to Peter’s business success over the years was not his degree but his way of connecting with people-his easy laugh, a warm smile, and an innate ability to make everyone comfortable.

Email newsletter signup

Peter and Rosemary were married in Chicago on July 1, 1967. They made a great team and their marriage was based on deep friendship and mutual respect. They had three children-Sean, Kelly and Daniel. Peter worked as an electrician in the Naval Air Reserves until he was moved to Naval Aviation after someone discovered that his color-blindness was an obstacle to actual electrical work. He spent more than 7 years with the Naval Air Reserves and was proud of the fact that no enemy submarines ever got north of Minneapolis. For the next twenty years, Peter continued his work in sales and marketing, building relationships and establishing himself as a leader in the hardware industry. He thoroughly enjoyed his work at Skiroule, Toro, and Arrow Group Industries. He loved attending the Hardware Show in Chicago each year. His work moved the family around Minnesota, Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey before settling in Kansas City in 1984.

The family’s move to Kansas City started a new era in Peter’s career, when Peter started his own manufacturer’s rep business. For the next thirty years, Peter worked as a manufacturer’s rep, calling on customer-favorites like Sutherland Lumber, Payless Cashways and Western Auto. He loved calling on customers and found real joy in every day work. After retiring from the rep business, Peter started working as a driver for Coach Automotive, where he found a group of kindred spirits whose company he enjoyed for many years.

Peter was not one to sweat the big stuff. Bad report cards, fender benders, his daughter switching colleges after just one week as a freshman, even his cancer diagnosis-he took all life’s twists and turns with grace and laughter. But God help anyone who left their shoes under the coffee table, left too many cassette tapes in the cup holder of the car, drove too slow in the left lane, dated a vegetarian, or didn’t return his ladder on time. Peter loved country music, owning boats he had no business owning, root beer floats, and the recliner that Rosemary finally let him have this summer. He loved traveling with Rosemary, family, and their lifelong friends. He served as a Big in the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and formed lasting friendships with his Littles as they grew into adulthood. He relished his children’s professional lives-watching every Royals game because his son Dan was technical-directing those games; asking about the latest interesting cases at the federal courthouse; and enjoying long conversations about the ups and downs of the mortgage business.

In his later years, Peter settled into his favorite role yet – Grandpa. He loved nothing more than cheering on his grandchildren in all their pursuits-from basketball games and bowling tournaments to orchestra concerts, dance recitals and photography competitions. He was the first person to send a text of encouragement or congratulations after any event and, although an avid Jayhawk fan, he enthusiastically supported his grandson’s decision to attend Kansas State this fall as much as his granddaughter’s decision to attend KU. He was each grandchild’s biggest (and loudest) fan and they will miss him dearly. His kind spirit will remain with each of them.

Peter had a mischievous twinkle in his eye that was well known by all who loved him. He will be remembered for his keen and quick sense of humor-a sense of humor that he maintained even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer just a few short months ago. He continued to embrace life with laughter and great courage, remaining positive and focused on others throughout his final days. Peter exemplified for his children and grandchildren a life of character, generosity and kindness. He showed them that sibling bonds last a lifetime-he facetimed his sister Erin until his final days. And in his final weeks and days, he expressed gratitude to everyone around him-for a life well lived and for the wonderful people who cared for him. Peter’s family is grateful to the healthcare workers at St. Joseph Medical Center and the wonderful hospice nurses who all joyfully cared for Peter.

Peter is survived by his wife of more than 56 years, Rosemary, who was a cheerful caregiver and a steady presence throughout Peter’s illness. He is also survived by his children, Sean McCaffrey of Parkville, Missouri; Kelly Martucci (Bill) of Mission Hills, Kansas; and Daniel McCaffrey (Jill Flinton) of Kansas City, Missouri; his grandchildren Andrew Cervantes McCaffrey, Matthew Peter Martucci, Elena Rose McCaffrey, and Caroline Kenney Martucci; his great-grandchildren Ayana McCaffrey and Saint McCaffrey; and many dear nieces, nephews and friends.

A visitation will be held on Friday, September 22 from 9:30am to 11:00am at Church of the Nativity, 3800 W. 119th Street, Leawood, Kansas 66209. A Mass of Christian Burial will start at 11:00am. A luncheon will follow the services in the Parish Hall. A private burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery, 8300 Quivira Road, Lenexa, Kansas 66215 following the luncheon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions in Peter’s name to Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care.