October 24, 1934 - October 27, 2019
Wichita, KS -- Joan Brussat Cole, born in Antioch, WI, to Ray Brussat (a much-loved junior and high school principal) and Thelma Brussat on October 24, 1934, passed away peacefully on October 27, 2019, having spent the weekend with her sisters and local family in celebrations for her 85th birthday. Joan graduated from Janesville High School in 1953, and went on to study in the School of Education at her father's alma mater, Lawrence College in Appleton, WI. She taught junior high language arts and social studies in Lincolnwood, IL, before pursuing a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin. Joan married Phillip T. May, Jr. in 1959, and they began a family together in 1965 in Madison, WI, while studying at the University of Wisconsin. They lived in Cape Canaveral, FL; Champagne, IL, and St. Louis, MO, before settling in Wichita, KS. In July 1980, Joan married Jerry Cole and they began raising their combined families together and engaging in a very active life of public service that has left a lasting legacy in the City of Wichita. From the humble beginning of fighting for the installation of a traffic crossing light for her local primary school, to taking important roles in the development of the Hyatt Hotel and Convention Center, the downtown Wichita Ice Center, the Eaton Hotel and Old Town redevelopment, Joan worked hard to bring people together to do great things for the city that she loved. She and Jerry believed that engaging in community service was not just a right and a privilege, but a duty, and they embraced that duty whole-heartedly. Both were involved in mental health advocacy and adeptly represented the midtown and downtown districts through neighborhood associations and political office. Joan participated in politics in Wichita for almost 25 years, served on the Wichita City Council for 8 years, and ran for Mayor of Wichita in 2003. A highlight in Joan's public life was to serve on the Wichita Arts Council to advance and promote arts and culture in the Wichita community. Joan was an avid reader, loved to travel, follow politics and was a lover of history. She and Jerry also ran a successful business, Cole Consultants, for many years. All the while, Joan was an engaged and loving wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend to many. She lived the last two years near her youngest son and his family in Overland Park, Kansas.
She leaves behind two sons whom she raised and loved with great care, Gardner and Douglas May and their wives, Alison Edwards May and Tina Reichenberger May; as well as four grandsons who she believed hung the moon, Connor and Reece May (Overland Park) and Isaac and Calvin May (Hong Kong). Joan is survived by Jerry's children, Steven and Cynthia Cole and their families. She is also survived by her sisters, Nancy Brussat and Karen Brussat Butler; Karen's husband Jeff Butler; four beloved nieces and nephews and five great-nieces and nephews. One of Joan's greatest joys in life was reuniting with her extended family as their beloved matriarch every other year in various locales around the United States.
A memorial service celebrating Joan's life will be held on Saturday, November 2nd at 11:00 a.m., at the Wichita Art Museum, 1400 Museum Blvd, Wichita, KS 67203, in the Beren Meeting Room. Arrangements by Downing & Lahey West. www.dlwichita.com