PHOENIX: (602) 906-9600 | PEORIA: (623) 486-1955

Date of Birth: September 30, 1929

Date of Death: September 15, 2022

Ramona Irene Gilstrap, who was about to be 93 years old on September 30, passed away at home with family surrounding her on September 15, 2022. Mona was the second of three children born to Russell and Vergie Braman on September 30, 1929 in El Dorado Kansas. She had an older sister, Shirley Braman Schmitz and a younger brother, Rollo Braman. She spent her earliest years in this farming community with her family. Mona later moved to Wichita and then Arkansas City, Kansas where she met her future husband, Doyle Gilstrap, at Arkansas City High School. Just before her Senior year in high school, she moved from Arkansas City to Manhattan, Kansas where she graduated high school in May of 1948. After high school, she attended comptometer school. (A comptometer was the first key-driven mechanical calculator.) After marrying on September 16, 1948, she worked as a comptometer while Doyle attended KSU in Manhattan. When he graduated, they moved to Caney Kansas where he taught history at Caney High School and she worked for Phillips Petroleum company, commuting the 20 miles to Bartlesville, OKlahoma. After a year of teaching, Doyle also went to work for Phillips. In 1955, Mona and Doyle started their family and Mona dedicated herself to full-time parenting. They bought an oversized lot in the new Ranch Acres subdivision in Bartlesville, one block from another building project in progress, Ranch Heights Elementary School, where all the children would later attend. Mona, using her creative and artistic talents, began the project of designing the floor plan and interior of the house they would build. In September 1960, the family moved into their new home before it had flooring installed or electricity turned on. At that time, there were five children, one being an infant. The following year, in 1961, the last child was born, bringing the total to six children, born in 6 ½ years. She was completely immersed in raising her children, attending every parent-teacher conference, carpooling to a myriad of lessons and sports activities, hosting birthday parties every year for each child, and helping with their classroom activities. Mona also cooked dinner every night so the family could eat together. The family attended both the Christian church service and Sunday school each week. Mona was instrumental in ensuring all the children were always dressed in their Sunday best with polished shoes and combed hair. Each was baptized as they became older. She planned holidays, vacations, sewed their clothing, and selflessly gave herself to the raising of her children. Mona also expressed her creativity in her culinary skills which she learned from both her mother and her mother-in-law. Her homemade goodies and holiday treats were legendary and beautiful. They became classics that were enjoyed by her family and friends alike. In 1963, she took a college class at a local private college and began working toward her teaching degree. While in college she was able to explore her love of art and tried many art forms and mediums. In 1971, Mona graduated from Tulsa University with a degree in elementary education and soon began her teaching career at the Dewey, Oklahoma Elementary School. Mona had a great love of children and had the capacity to recognize their gifts and encourage their talents. She consequently became a highly sought after teacher, dearly loved by her students and their parents. She made it her mission at the beginning of each school year to show extraordinary love to the children who needed it most, those who would be considered by others to be the most difficult. Throughout her life, Mona was far ahead of her time in the realm of health, psychology, and spirituality. She was continually fascinated by these topics and researched the fields because of her desire to improve herself and her family. After their children were grown, Mona and Doyle divorced in 1983. In 1987, at the age of 58, Mona began a battle with ovarian cancer and was victorious. She went back to teaching before retiring in 1990. She then became very active at the Bartlesville community’s 55 Plus Senior Center, where she taught art classes and line dancing for several years. In 2002 her fifth child, Grady, had a serious accident at age 42 that left him with loss of limb and a traumatic brain injury, requiring extensive recovery, years of physical therapies, and full time care. In 2004, Mona moved with her daughter, Roben, and family to Phoenix in search of higher quality services for Grady, who moved in with the family in 2005. She assisted with his care until his death from cancer in 2009. Besides caring for Grady, she continued to develop her artistic talents in colored pencil drawings, water color, oils and acrylic while a member of the Tempe Artists Guild. She eventually became an accomplished portrait artist, offering her work to raise funds for community building activities. Whenever she had the opportunity, she also supported the artistic development of her grandchildren. A member of the Baha’i Faith since 2007, she was deeply religious and spiritual and expressed her love of God by serving as a teacher in Baha'i children's classes. She loved and served her family and community until her death, after having lived in Phoenix for 18 years. Mona was preceded in death by her parents, Russell and Vergie Braman, her siblings, Shirley Braman Schmitz and Rollo Braman, her son, Grady Gilstrap,her granddaughter Salem Hand, and her great grandson Braxton Riffey. She leaves her remaining five children, eleven grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild, and many nieces and nephews Her surviving children are daughter Tami Gilstrap Reitinger, of Longview Texas; daughter Roben Gilstrap Schmidt and her husband Bill Schmidt of Phoenix Arizona, David Gilstrap of Scottsdale Arizona, Jeff Gilstrap of Tempe Arizona, Jan Gilstrap and his wife LaChelle Gilstrap of Cape Coral Florida. Surviving grandchildren by Tami are; Marilyn Reitinger Powell, her husband Tom Powell and her daughter Peyton Reitinger; Roben Reitinger Carter, her husband Tim Carter, and their children Joanna Carter and Scotty Carter; Brian Reitinger, his wife Haley, children Natasha Reitinger and her daughter Brooklynn Bush, Dagen Reitinger, Riese Reitinger, London Reitinger, Hudson Reitinger and Luke Reitinger. Surviving grandchildren by Roben Schmidt are Ian Boggs, Lindsay Smith and her husband Justin Smith. Surviving grandchildren by Grady are Amanda Gilstrap, Kris Gilstrap, and Emily Gilstrap. Surviving grandchildren by Jan are Shawn Gilstrap; Nolan Gilstrap and his children Heidi and Alexa; Crystal Gilstrap Torres and her husband Chris. Mona was an intuitive, sensitive, and empathetic person. People who knew her always loved her and commented on her kindness, thoughtfulness, and her sweet disposition. She adored her God, her family and her friends. She leaves a legacy of gentleness of spirit, character, integrity, and a love of all people. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to know her.

Service Information

A celebration of life for Ramona (Mona) will be held Sunday, October 2nd, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Bill and Roben Schmidt's home located at 8106 North 11th Street Phoenix, AZ, 85020