Cover photo for Gayle Van Auken's Obituary
Gayle Van Auken Profile Photo
1943 Gayle 2021

Gayle Van Auken

May 17, 1943 — June 6, 2021

Shawnee, Kansas

Gayle Van Auken, age 78, passed away peacefully in her Shawnee, Kansas home June 6, 2021.

Gayle was born May 17, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to her loving parents Harold and Dorothy Jensen. Chicago remained her home until she graduated from Lindblom Technical High School as the class valedictorian in 1961.

After high school, Gayle attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa where she earned her B.A. in German.  She continued her studies in German at the University of Syracuse in New York State where she acquired her Master’s Degree.  Later in life, Gayle went on to earn her Master’s in Library Science from Emporia State University in 1987.

Gayle worked at Linda Hall Science Library from 1985 through 2009 when she retired as the Assistant Head of Technical Services. She considered herself to be a perpetual student, always eager to know more than she knew the day before. Books were her favorite way to learn, so a career as a librarian was a perfect fit. Gayle made lasting relationships in her time at Linda Hall and coworkers quickly became family.

Gayle’s life was defined by her relationships. Family meant everything to her, and her friendships were meaningful and lifelong. Not only did Gayle have the same best friend since before kindergarten, she also took regular trips with both high school and college friend groups through her last years.

Friendships even became a focal point of her passions. Her passions included everything Jane Austen, birdwatching and nature, the many facets of tea, genealogy, and travel. She was also diligent about her health, taking weekly yoga and pilates classes. Gayle was a member of the Jane Austen Society through which she took trips to the Annual General Meeting and a trip to Jane Austen’s home in England. She frequently met with her tea group at Anna Marie’s where they were known as the “Usual Suspects”.

However, her greatest passion was her love for her grandchildren. Gayle loved her grandchildren fiercely and that love was equally reciprocated. The meaningful time spent with them provided memories they will carry with them forever.

She is survived by her son Mark Van Auken; son Eric Van Auken and his wife Beth; grandchildren Joshua Van Auken, Hannah Van Auken, Noah Van Auken, Madeline Van Auken, Connor Wright and Miranda Wright.

Gayle was preceded in death by her father Harold, mother Dorothy and cousin Gary Smith .

Please join us in a celebration of Gayle’s life Tuesday June 15, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. followed by a brief time of remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Johnson County Funeral Chapel & Memorial Gardens, 11200 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, KS 66210.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gayle Van Auken, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life Reception

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Johnson County Chapel


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