Gwendolyn D. Koppen passed peacefully from this world to the next surrounded by her family on April 22. She joins her husband William Koppen, parents Lillian and Glenn Fuller, and brother Thomas Fuller.
Gwen was born October 30, 1927 and lived her life in Kansas City. She graduated from Lillis High School and met her future husband, Bill, while working at KCP&L. They married on April 16, 1955 and raised five children. She is survived by Julie Koppen (Jim Gottsch), Bill Koppen (Pam), Laurie Morris, Ted Koppen, Johannah Waldo (Fritz); grandchildren Dan Martin (Melissa), Ben Martin, Tim Martin (Elizabeth Morris), Anna Martin, Paul Gottsch, Jenny Gottsch; Gus Koppen, Sam Koppen; Allison Hiatt (Daniel), Megan Sweeney (Shagan Overman); Jim Koppen (Carly), Maria Koppen, Mimi Bachman (Alec), Lily Koppen; great-grandchildren Samantha, Hudson, Rowan, Madison and Gibson; and sister, Pat Fuller (John McNamara).
Gwen’s family was her life priority, especially her children’s education. She was an active school volunteer, including president of the Redemptorist Grade School PTA where she helped start its first school board. She organized school/church fundraisers, turkey dinners and socials. She held jobs in retail sales and as a secretary at Ash Grove Cement.
Gwen will be remembered for her love of everyone. She was the caretaker of children, grandchildren, parents and friends. She made friends easily, from gas station attendants to caregivers late in life. She loved to travel, especially beach trips and occasional adventures. She especially enjoyed a 1970s family road trip to Chihuahua, Mexico and a 400-mile train ride through the Sierra Madre Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Gwen loved to drive, and once got clocked at over 100 mph. When stopped, she calmly explained she had safely chosen an empty highway to see how fast her new car would go. She didn’t get a ticket.
In her 40s, Gwen began practicing yoga “before it was cool” and taught a class for the nuns at St. Teresa’s Academy. In her 50s, she overcame her fear of water and learned to swim. She returned to college and got her real estate license in her 60s. In her late 70s, she parasailed with grandchildren. Two days before she died, she got her final wish to ride a horse. The next day, she treated family to the Cristo Rey High School Dancing with the Stars.
Gwen believed in social justice, equality for all and standing up for the oppressed. She was a news hound, weather watcher, avid reader, fashionista, music lover, Royals fan, crossword puzzle and political junkie who would tell you she was socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. She was deeply spiritual and received requests from friends and family to be put on her daily prayer list, which she prayed from memory. When needed, she would move you to the top of her list. She often prayed for our presidents, especially if she did not like them. She wished she’d lived long enough to see a woman president. She will be dearly missed.
The family thanks her caregivers whom she loved from Advanced Health Care Overland Park, Bishop Spencer Place, Crossroads Hospice and Griswold Home Care.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 26 at Redemptorist Church, 3333 Broadway, with a celebration party immediately following in the Garden Room adjacent to the church at Cristo Rey High School. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Cristo Rey.