Cover photo for Jan Southwick O'Rourke's Obituary
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Jan Southwick O'Rourke

May 9, 1943 — June 6, 2023

Overland Park

Jan Southwick O'Rourke

Beloved wife, mother and “Gaga”, Janet Southwick O’Rourke, passed away on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at Saint Luke’s Hospital after an unexpected health emergency.

Jan was born on May 9, 1943 in Findlay, OH to parents & musicians Richard and Margaret Southwick. After graduating from Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, NC, she attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance with a Piano Performance Minor. After college, she received a full scholarship to attend the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Master of Music in Trumpet Performance. During this time, she had the opportunity to play with the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra.

After graduation, she accepted a position teaching music at Hawken School in Lyndhurst, OH, where she met her future husband, Tom O’Rourke. They began dating in 1968 and were married on June 20, 1970, welcoming daughters Laura and Julie in the following years.

Overland Park, KS became their permanent home in 1978. Jan became involved in the local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Kansas City Musical Club, where she served a term as President. She was also very involved in her daughters’ schools, serving as President of the PTA at Nall Hills Elementary School and later serving with her husband as Presidents of both the Shawnee Mission South High School Band and Orchestra Boosters.

Jan taught private piano lessons and served as an accompanist for many high school and community musical theater productions, including Theatre in the Park, where she was awarded the Founders Award in 2002. In addition, she accompanied multiple students for high school solo & ensemble music contests.

A birthday cake decorating class would launch a business that would thrive for the next four decades. But perhaps her favorite role later in life was as a doting “Gaga” to her twin granddaughters. Jan was unconditionally kind, gracious, caring and supportive. She was a loyal friend, and like a surrogate mother, loved by many. Her mega-watt smile, her wicked wit, infectious laugh and her ability to light up a room will be sorely missed. Jan was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Tom, daughters Laura VanLeeuwen (Dave) of Overland Park, KS and Julie Kaul (Danny) of Olathe, KS and granddaughters Alexandra & Megan. She is also survived by Julia Southwick of Raleigh, NC.

Visitation will be held from 4:30-7 p.m. on Monday, July 10, at Cure of Ars Church (9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS 66206). A celebration of Jan’s life will be on Tuesday, July 11 at 2:00 p.m. also at Cure of Ars, immediately followed by a reception at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center (11902 Lowell Ave, OP, KS). In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Jan O’Rourke Memorial Fund to benefit aspiring musicians and educators. Donations may be sent in care of Johnson County Funeral Chapel (11200 Metcalf Ave, OP, KS 66210).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jan Southwick O'Rourke, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Monday, July 10, 2023

4:30 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Cure of Ars Catholic Church

9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS 66206

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Cure of Ars Catholic Church

9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS 66206

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Reception

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Starts at 3:30 pm (Central time)

Tomahawk Ridge Community Center

11902 Lowell Ave, Overland Park, KS 66213

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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