William Van Auken (Bill), son of Howard and Norma Van Auken, was born June 19, 1920 in Mason City, Iowa and died October 16th at Lakeview Village, Lenexa, KS at the age of 99. When he was a young child, his family moved to Wichita, KS. At Wichita East High School, he played trombone in marching band, was manager of the baseball team, and was Valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Economics and Life Insurance. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and played trombone in the marching band at Wharton.
He received a commission in the Navy Supply Corps in 1943 and attended the Navy Supply Corps Officer School at Harvard University. He served as a Supply and Disbursing Officer on the Destroyer U.S.S. Erben in the South Pacific and was in the Battle of Tarawa (Japan). He also served as a Supply Officer on the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Canberra. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
He met Aileen Ainsworth in Kansas City and they were wed in 1948. They were happily married for 61 years. Aileen passed away in 2010.
He joined Massachusetts Mutual in 1946 as a Life Insurance agent and eventually as a Pension Specialist. He was a member of the Charter Life Underwriters. He worked for Mass Mutual well into his 80’s.
Some of his contributions to the Kansas City community included: President of the Downtown Kiwanis Club and a member for over 45 years, Board of directors of the Metropolitan YMCA, first chairman of the Invest in Youth Campaign to raise money for underprivileged children, Board of Directors of the University Club and Homestead Country Club, Founder of the Stardusters Dance Club (ballroom dancing), Elder of the Second Presbyterian Church, President of the University of Pennsylvania Kansas City Alumni Chapter, President of the Beta Theta Pi Kansas City Alumni Chapter, President of the KC Chapter of the American Society of Life Underwriters, and President of the KC Chapter of the Charter Life Underwriters.
He was also one of the most enthusiastic sportsmen ever, his favorites being squash, tennis, golf, and billiards. He and Aileen built a cabin in the mountains of Colorado where they spent many summers with friends and family. They also enjoyed jeeping and horseback pack trips.
He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was a caring, generous, patriotic man of principle. He will be sorely missed.
William was preceded in death by his wife, Aileen, and is survived by his 3 children: Dan Van Auken, Richard Van Auken, and Alisa Anthony; daughters-in-law Peggy Van Auken and Laurie Van Auken, 5 grandchildren: Matt, Suzanne, Peter, David, Parker, and Steven; 6 great-grandchildren, and his good friend, Bea Oglesby.
The family thanks the staff of Lakeview Village for all their loving care.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. with funeral services following at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 15th at Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th St, KC, MO. Contributions in his honor may be made to Salvation Army, Second Presbyterian Church, Kansas City Kiwanis, or the charity of your choice.