Jeannie Kygar Eblen
July 29, 1944 - November 11, 2021
Lawrence, Kansas - Jean Kygar Eblen, 77, died unexpectedly on Nov. 11, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan.
Widely known as Jeannie Eblen, she was beloved by family, friends, students and journalism icons alike, and respected as a skilled writer and editor at area newspapers, a national magazine, the University of Kansas and many non-profit organizations.
She was born Patricia Jean Kygar 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 the one-room Hewins School, then Cedar Vale High School where she graduated as valedictorian in 1962.
She was a 1963 Kansas delegate to the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., concluding 11 years of 4-H membership. During that conference, she was selected to represent 2.5 million 4-H youth at the dedication of the statue of "4-H Girl" in Danforth's Courtyard in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Numerous collegiate honors followed at Oklahoma State University, including co-editorship of the Daily O'Collegian, president of OSU's Varsity Revue, president of Theta Sigma Phi (now Association for Women in Communications), Kappa Tau Alpha, the Mortar Board and Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma's Delta Sigma chapter at OSU.
After graduating in 1966 from OSU with a Bachelor of Science in news-editorial journalism and home economics, she worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star from 1966 to 1976, earning numerous accolades, including the national Dorothy Dawe Award for home furnishings writing in 1972. She was Kansas City field editor for Better Homes & Gardens magazine from 1976 to 1980.
She married fellow Star journalist Tom Eblen on June 5, 1966, in Cedar Vale, Kan. They made their home in Kansas City before moving in 1980 to Fort Scott, Kan., where Tom was general manager of the Fort Scott Tribune. In Fort Scott, Jeannie Eblen immersed herself in freelance writing and community engagement. She was public information officer for Fort Scott Community College's rodeo team, was active with Fort Scott's Historic Preservation Association Homes for the Holidays tours, and was an executive secretary at Diehl, Banwart, Bolton, Jarred & Bledsoe CPA firm in Fort Scott.
The Eblens moved to Lawrence in 1990, where Tom was general manager of the University Daily Kansan and editorial professor for KU's William Allen White School of Journalism. Known as the "newsroom mom" at the Kansan, Jeannie also worked as a copy editor for the Kansas City Star, the Lawrence Journal-World and for the Miami County Republic in Paola, Kan. She copyedited multiple projects through the Kansas Press Association and helped maintain the KPA's library of more than 200 Kansas publications. She was an active member of William Allen White Community Foundation Board, promoting the journalism and Red Rocks home preservation in Emporia, Kan.
At KU, she worked as a secretary with Design & Construction Management and was appointed as hometown news specialist for University Relations, coordinating with multiple media contacts throughout Kansas. She was a graduate of the Citizen's Academy of the Lawrence Police Department in 1999, an advisory board member of KU's Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter and was a longtime election worker the Douglas County election office.
After Tom retired from KU professorship in 2001 to consult for the Kansas Press Association, Jeannie accompanied him on numerous trips to newspapers throughout the state. The Eblens celebrated their 50th Anniversary in June 2016. Tom preceded her in death on June 10, 2017.
In recent years, Jeannie Eblen was active with KU's Alumni Endacott Society retirees' group and enjoyed commiserating with fellow Lawrence gardeners. She had a prolific garden and generously shared her bounty of heirloom tomatoes and peppers. She loved traveling throughout Kansas and Oklahoma to visit friends, family and area museums. She had just returned from an enjoyable trip to visit friends in Sedan, Kan. and Bartlesville, Okla. shortly before her death.
Survivors include her son, Matt Eblen and his wife Liz, of Roeland Park, Kan.; daughter Courtney McCain, her husband Ken and 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 Avenue, Topeka, KS 66064 or to KU Endowment Association, c/o Tom Eblen's Red Pen Scholarship, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, Kan. 66044-0928.
Celebration of Life will be Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the KU Memorial Union (Big 12 Room), in Lawrence. An additional Celebration reception will take place on March 5, 2022, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Bull Building in Sedan, Kan. Internment will be at Ozro Cemetery in nearby Hewins. Online condolences made at rumsey-yost.com
Published by Kansas City Star on Nov. 28, 2021.