Obituary: Jean Kygar Eblen (19/11/21)

Jean Kygar Eblen, who inspired generations of journalists with his boundless energy, appreciation for quality journalism and decades of volunteering for key projects across Kansas and Oklahoma, passed away on November 11, 2021 in Lawrence, Kan. She was 77 years old.

She died suddenly after battling a form of lymphoma for almost 18 months. Widely known as Jeannie Eblen, she was loved by students and journalism icons, even those she could debate politely but eloquently. She was respected as a skilled writer and editor in metro and community dailies, a national magazine, the University of Kansas, and many nonprofit organizations.

She was born Patricia Jean Kygar on July 29, 1944 in Atchison, Kan., To Vaughn Wenzel Kygar and Undene (Littrell) Kygar. She grew up on her family’s farm in Chautauqua County, Kan., Where she attended Hewins One-Room School before it closed when she and her only other classmate were in eighth grade. She then attended Cedar Vale High School where she graduated as a valedictorian in 1962.

She was a Kansas delegate in 1963 to the National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC, concluding 11 years of Kansas 4-H membership. During this conference, she was selected to represent 2.5 million 4-H youth at the unveiling of the ?? 4-H Girl ?? statue. in Danforth Yard in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Numerous college honors followed at Oklahoma State University, including co-authoring the Daily O ?? Collegian, President of OSU ?? s Varsity Revue, Chairman of Theta Sigma Phi (now Association for Women in Communications) , Kappa Tau Alpha, the Mortar Council, and Who’s Who at American Colleges and Universities. She was a member of the Delta Sigma chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at OSU.

Shortly after graduating from OSU in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science in Editorial Journalism and Home Economics, she moved to Kansas City to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star. She worked for The Star from 1966 to 1976, winning numerous accolades for home economics writing, including the National Dorothy Dawe Award for Home Furnishing Writing in 1972. She was editor-in-chief at Kansas City for Better Homes & Gardens magazine from 1976 to 1980.

She married fellow Star reporter Tom Eblen on June 5, 1966 in Cedar Vale, Kansas. They made their home in Kansas City, where Tom later became the Star’s editor. The Eblens had a daughter and son, and later moved in 1980 to Fort Scott, Kan., Where Tom was the general manager of the Fort Scott Tribune. At Fort Scott, Jeannie Eblen immersed herself in freelance writing and community engagement. She has worked as a Public Information Officer for the Fort Scott Community College Rodeo Team, has been active with the Historic Preservation Association Homes for the Holidays Tours in Fort Scott, and has served as Executive Secretary at Diehl , Banwart, Bolton, Jarred & Bledsoe. CPA firm in Fort Scott.

The Eblens moved to Lawrence in 1990, where Tom was executive director of University Daily Kansan and professor of writing at KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism. After moving with Tom to Lawrence, Jeannie worked as a writer for the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World, and for the Miami County Republic in Paola, Kan. She has edited several publications and projects through the Kansas Press Association and has helped maintain the KPA Library of over 200 Kansas Daily, Weekly, Focused, and Alternative publications. She was an active board member of the William Allen White Community Foundation, promoting the history of journalism and the preservation of the Red Rocks House in Emporia, Kan.

At the University of Kansas, she worked as a secretary with KU? S Design & Construction Management and was appointed Hometown News Specialist at KU? S University Relations, coordinating with multiple media contacts throughout the state of Kansas. She was a graduate of the Lawrence Police Department Citizen Academy in 1999, a member of the KU Chapter Kappa Kappa Gamma Advisory Board, and was a long-time election worker with the Douglas County Election Office.

After Tom retired from his teaching post at KU in 2001 to become a consultant for the Kansas Press Association, Jeannie accompanied him on numerous newspaper trips statewide. The Eblens celebrated their 50th birthday in June 2016. Tom predeceased her in death on June 10, 2017.

In recent years, Jeannie Eblen has been active with retirees from the KU ?? s Alumni Endacott Society ?? group and enjoyed making friends with other gardeners in Lawrence. She had a prolific garden and generously shared her bounty of ancient tomatoes and peppers. She enjoyed traveling through Kansas and Oklahoma to visit friends, family, and area museums. She had just returned from a pleasant trip visiting friends in Sedan, Kan. and Bartlesville, Okla. shortly before his death.

Survivors include his son, Matt Eblen and his wife Liz, of Roeland Park, Kan .; her daughter Courtney McCain, her husband Ken and her granddaughters Megan and Mary McCain, all of Overland Park, Kan .; Brother Clyde Kygar and his wife Shirley, of Tulsa, Okla .; niece Roslyn Kygar of Austin, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, Jeannie’s family suggests memorial donations to the Kansas Newspaper Foundation # 351, 4021 SW 10th Av., Topeka, KS 66064 or the KU Endowment Association, in charge of Tom Eblen’s Red Pen Scholarship, PO Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044-0928.

Arrangements for the celebration of life are pending.


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