Katherine Ann O’Connor Bruner was born February 17, 1948 in Gardner, Kansas, and passed
on February 23, 2020 at KU Medical Center, following an automobile accident. Kathy grew up in
Overland Park, attended Bishop Miege High School, St. Mary College of Leavenworth, and
graduated from Wichita State University. Kathy leaves behind her husband of 50 years Dr.
Steven Bruner, daughters Jen Mier (David), Katie Soff (Jesse) and beloved grandchildren Anna
and Abby Mier and Kellen and Julian Soff. Her family and large extended family were some of
her greatest joys.
Kathy was an avid world traveler, accomplished gardener, community activist and Democratic
party supporter. She was a Girl Scout leader, ski trip chaperone, and excellent photographer
and an avid Jayhawk basketball fan. Kathy served on numerous boards including: Lawrence
Memorial Hospital Endowment, Friends of the Theatre, United Way, Red Cross, Douglas
County Medical Alliance, Rotary, and Hearts of Gold Medical Gala.
One of her proudest achievements was serving as co-chair of Clean Air Lawrence, which
resulted in an indoor smoking ban in Lawrence the first in the state, which then spread to many
other communities. She testified twice for the Kansas Legislature, finally persuading them to
pass a Statewide indoor smoking ban.
Kathy and Steve also wrote and co-produced the award-winning documentary of Lawrence
history “Lawrence Free State Fortress.” It ran for 20 years in the Arden Booth Theatre at the
Lawrence Visitor Center for which Kathy was major fund-raiser. The film was seen by every 4th
grade class during that period. Kathy was also instrumental in compiling the oral history of
Theatre Lawrence in celebration of their 40th Anniversary.
She was so proud of her Irish heritage and marched with the O’Connor family float in the KC St.
Patrick’s day parade for over 40 years. Even while in a wheelchair one year! She never knew a
stranger and definitely had the gift of gab.
Kathy leaves behind siblings Mary Dailey (Tom), Sherri Sobek (Jim), Bill O’Connor, Sheila
O’Connor (Gerry Sigmon), Ann Waters (Bill), Kelly Specht (Bob), Trish Orth (Jim), sister-in-law
Vickie Louvier, 20 nieces and nephews, and many great nieces and nephews. Kathy loved
family gatherings with her 75+ on both sides of the family.
The Visitation will be Friday, February 28th 6:00pm to 8:00pm, at Warren-McElwain Mortuary at 120 West 13th Street, Lawrence, Kansas.
The Funeral will be Saturday, February 29th 10:00am at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont Street, Lawrence.
Kathy’s wish to be an organ donor was fulfilled. Her other wish was for everyone to vote.
Donations in her honor may be made to Carl’s Cause, 10520 Barton Street, Overland Park, KS
66214, The Lawrence Rotary Club Foundation, or Theatre Lawrence and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.