Brenda Kaye Shawley passed away on Sunday, March 29 at her home in Lawrence, Kansas, after a courageous battle with cancer.
Brenda was born on February 15, 1969, in McPherson, Kansas, to LaVonne and Claude Shawley. She is survived by the love of her life Kala Loomis, her parents Claude and Lavonne Shawley, brother David and his wife Gabriella, nieces Alexandria Flory (Matthew), Amanda Patneaude (Nicholas), Analeesa Shawley, nephews Hunter Shawley, Chandler Shawley and great nephew Truman Flory.
Brenda and her family moved to Linwood, Kansas early in her life where she grew up and graduated from Linwood High School. Brenda’s love for athletics started at a very young age when she used to play catch with her dad and race him until she could finally beat him. She was a basketball, track and volleyball standout in high school and went on to play basketball at Emporia State University where she earned a degree in Physical Education/teaching. Her first teaching job was in Independence, KS but Brenda missed home and decided to return to the Lawrence area without a job just so she could be close to family and friends. She soon obtained a PE teaching position at Baldwin Junior High School where she taught and coached for 20+ years.
Words cannot do justice to Brenda’s positive approach to life and influence on those around her. She never met a stranger and her infectious smile would light up a room. She always made people feel like she had known them forever and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for you.
Brenda’s influence as a teacher/coach/mentor to 20 years worth of students was shown through the testimonies and support for her as she faced her health battle. She was a successful coach and in 2019 Brenda was named Middle School Coach of the Year by the Kansas Coaches Association.
Brenda loved sports, being outdoors and doing things with family and friends. She was an avid softball player and was a member of the Women’s USSSA Class C National Championship team. Her mom said she could “run like the wind” and no ball player better try to run on her as she could throw anyone out. She also inherited the love of music from Claude as he taught her to play the guitar. A love of cooking passed down from her Grandma Homeier and her mother LaVonne made many people happy with the fruits of their labor.
In 2006 after being softball teammates for a few seasons, she started a relationship with Kala. For 14 years, they were best friends and constant companions. They both loved the Jayhawks and spent many nights in Allen Fieldhouse. Whether they were playing basketball together (“I was open”), golfing, fishing, driving around Clinton Lake, going to family gatherings and niece/nephew activities, they were together showing what true soul mates and love could be. In 2019, they took a dream trip to Hawaii together. Brenda was loved by all of Kala’s family and was such an important part of every family gathering.
Brenda will be missed by all her family and friends, but her legacy will live on for a long time. We have been blessed by knowing her and are comforted in the knowledge that she is now in her heavenly home, running free. In lieu of flowers, a memorial scholarship will be established in Baldwin and can be sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044.
A Celebration of Life for Brenda will be announced at a later date once the public gathering restrictions are lifted.