Kathryn Sue (Speak) Gansz – Shawnee News-Star
Services for Kathryn Sue (Speak) Gansz of the Coker family will take place at 11:00 am on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at the New Hope Baptist Church, west of Tecumseh.
Kathryn (Kathy) took up residence in her heavenly home on January 3, 2022, just before her 84th birthday. There, according to Scriptural promises, she is enjoying many happy reunions with loved ones while awaiting the resurrection of her physical body, presently interred at New Hope Cemetery.
Kathy began her earthly journey in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on January 22, 1938, born the sixth and youngest child of Una Valerie Coker Cerba, then married to Anthony Brady Speak; Una later married George W. Artman, who was a kind and loving father to Kathy and her siblings until his death in 1960.
Kathy, or “Katie” as she was then known, enjoyed the early years of her childhood on the Coker family homestead in Bethel Acres with her dear grandmother and her Aunt Zola, but was thrilled to “come to town” when old enough to join her siblings and attend Irving and later Woodrow Wilson grade schools in Shawnee.
Kathy thoroughly enjoyed her years at Shawnee High School (SHS, ’55), and was known by her many friends for her characteristic sweetness, kindness, and beautiful smile. Kathy was prominent in school activities at SHS; she was a member of the Thespians and Sigma Delta, performed with a vocal trio at local Shawnee civic groups, and served as president of the Tri Hi Y service organization. She was a cheerleader and competitive tennis player, as well as a beauty contest winner and model. Teenage jobs included working as a window dresser and gift wrapper for downtown Shawnee businesses. She enjoyed the many chaperoned dances and social occasions that took place at Shawnee’s “Teen Town,” and hoped eventually to become a singer of popular music. With this goal in mind, Kathy enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU, ’60) as a student of vocal performance and sociology. Her life, however, took a major turn in the summer of 1956 when she encountered the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and gave her life unreservedly to Him. Kathy’s outlook and goals were forever altered by this decision, resulting in a change of her major to nursing.
While at OBU, Kathy served as president of the Oklahoma State Student Nurses Association, leading the Oklahoma delegation of student nurses to a national convention in Philadelphia. She was on the Dean’s Honor Roll, a member of Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, and president of OBU’s pre-professional organization for future nurses. She remained active in social and service organizations as president of the Hatharean club and member of the Young Women’s Auxiliary. A Yahnseh Queen finalist and a delegate to Student Congress, Kathy was also a varsity cheerleader and tennis player. To help pay tuition, she held down three campus jobs simultaneously, including as a receptionist for the university’s executive offices. Kathy did her clinical training at Wesley Hospital in Oklahoma City (OKC) and became a Registered Nurse in 1960. She forever appreciated the guidance and excellent training she received at OBU under the direction of Miss Juanita Proctor, and was later asked to speak at the spring “capping” ceremony of student nurses in a subsequent class.
Remaining in OKC after graduation, Kathy taught Red Cross home nursing and pediatric care to student nurses at Baptist Foundation Hospital and the Gilbert Clinic, served as a camp nurse at Falls Creek Baptist Youth Camp, and became surgical nurse to world-renowned ear surgeon Dr. Jack Hough. Dr. Hough was a successful early pioneer of hearing restoration surgery who helped develop the cochlear implant; he was also a godly man and medical missionary from whom Kathy learned many aspects of living out the Christian faith in the workplace. While in OKC, Kathy joined Metropolitan Baptist Church, where she used her beautiful soprano voice as a soloist in congregational worship. She grew in her faith by attending many home Bible studies and sharing an apartment with other godly young women seeking to mature in Christian life and character.
Although saddened to leave Dr. Hough’s practice, in 1962 Kathy prayerfully accepted an invitation to join a discipleship-training program at Glen Eyrie, the Navigators’ international headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO. The Navigators are an international Christian service organization with whom Kathy had become acquainted during her OBU years. At Glen Eyrie, noted for its beautiful 19th-century “castle” built on the grounds by a Colorado railroad baron, Kathy would meet her “handsome prince,” a Navy lieutenant (res.) named Edward Daniel Gansz, son of Edward Neuman and Hildegarde Ruth (Jud) Gansz of Omaha, NE, who came to the Glen to participate in the same training program. Kathy and Ed were married on April 18, 1964, at Metropolitan Baptist Church in OKC by Pastor David Cotten.
Ed and Kathy’s life together immediately became filled with ministry opportunities, including service with the 1965 Billy Graham Crusade in Denver. Subsequently, Ed’s employment with the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) allowed them to establish homes and close friendships in multiple cities and states, including Washington State, Colorado, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
In January 1969, Kathy endured the heartbreaking grief of losing her first child, an infant daughter, born with multiple birth defects. However, God gave her the promise of another child (Psalm 85:12), and when a daughter, Alicia Karen, was born to them almost a year to the day later, Kathy became “a happy mother” (Psalm 113:9, TLB) for the rest of her earthly life.
In 1976, Kathy and her family relocated to Shawnee, where Ed earned a second degree at OBU (’80) and daughter Alicia attended Woodrow Wilson grade school. During this time, Kathy worked as a nurse at hospitals in Shawnee and OKC, while providing nursing care for her step-father, Mr. Charles Cerba, until his death in 1978.
In 1981, the family moved to Omaha, where Kathy gave ongoing nursing and home care to Ed’s aging parents. When the family moved to Arlington, Texas, in 1986, Ed’s parents joined them, and Kathy cared for both parents-in-law at home until their deaths in 1989.
In 1994, Kathy helped her dear mother, Una Cerba, relocate to Arlington when the latter was no longer able to live independently on her beloved and beautiful “farm” in Bethel Acres, part of the original Coker homestead. In Arlington, Una enjoyed a loving home environment and Kathy’s attentive nursing care until Una’s death in 1997.
Kathy had many talents, which she exercised primarily in the home, as was her joy. She delighted in being a wife, mother, and homemaker, and was excellent at many skills. Her inventiveness and creativity, combined with the exacting skills of precision and order demanded by her nurse’s training, lent themselves well to nearly any task she chose to undertake. Some examples of her abilities included remodeling and interior design, furniture refinishing, wood staining and painting, drawing and sketching, wallpaper hanging, and sewing. She also thoroughly enjoyed research related to the identification and preservation of antique items. She was an excellent home nurse, always caring for the health and well-being of her family with attentiveness and love.
Kathy excelled throughout her life in personal and professional writing. Most notable were her gifts for the writing and memorizing of Christian poetry. She had a keen and intelligent mind, pursued many research interests, and maintained a large library of books. The topics closest to her heart were subjects related to the modern state of Israel, Jewish-Christian relations, Biblical prophecy, modern political and social movements, and health and nutrition. Kathy’s library also contained the great classics of Christian devotional literature. However, her greatest joy and strongest influence was always the Word of God, having witnessed its power to dramatically change her own and others’ lives.
Kathy loved the beauty of Creation, and delighted in the lovely flowers, birds, and butterflies that colored her garden each year. She thoroughly enjoyed taking trips with her family to their favorite vacation spots of South Padre Island, TX, and Colorado. Two opportunities to travel to Israel were deeply meaningful, as was an unforgettable church mission trip to Eastern Europe shortly after the tyrannical wall of Communism fell in that part of the world.
Kathy also enjoyed memorable visits to beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee, with her mother, sister Mary Ann, and daughter, for the purpose of researching Coker family history. Late in life, Kathy was given the gift of finding and meeting her brother Barry Speak of Tequesta, Florida. Getting to know Barry, his wife Jane, and the families of his sons, Mark and Jon, was a tremendous blessing to her, and the families were able to enjoy many happy visits together. In 2011,
Kathy was diagnosed with 4th-stage cancer, given a medical diagnosis of six months to live, and placed on home hospice care. Six months later, she was cancer free and had a testimony of God’s miraculous intervention and healing that she joyfully shared whenever given the opportunity.
Kathryn Speak Gansz loved her Lord and her family, and gave herself fully, selflessly, willingly, and sacrificially to serving both. She loved to talk and sing about the imminent Second Coming of Christ, and lived in joyful anticipation of the coming Rapture of the Church as described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. No doubt, she was met in heaven by her Lord’s loving welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Kathy was preceded in death by many beloved family members: her infant daughter, Gretchen Brooke Gansz; her mother, Una Valerie Coker Cerba (OBU 1919-20); her aunt Kathryn Speak McArthur; her brothers, William (Bill) Brady Speak (OBU ’56) and Barry Claude Speak; her sisters Betty Brown Pitt Russell, June Brown Ventura, and Amaryllis (Amy) Brown Miller; her nieces Valerie Miller Darling and Patricia (Patt) Pitt Rosenbaum; and her nephew Matthew George Miller.
Surviving are her husband, Edward Daniel Gansz; daughter, Alicia Karen Gansz; sister, Mary Ann Speak Lanier Wickline (OBU, ‘56); sisters-in-law, Ruth Ann Gansz Schrott and Jane Karintie Speak; nephews William (Bill) Pitt, Randy Rosenbaum, Robert (Bobby) Miller, Jr., Mark Lanier, David Speak, Mark Speak, Jon Speak, Carl Schrott, and Greg Schrott; nieces Betty Lee Pitt Robertson, Laura Ventura Henderson, Toni Marie Ventura Bryce, Brenda Miller Karns, Cindy Lanier Nielsen, Melanie Ann Lanier, and Heidi Schrott Hawkings.
Also surviving are many beloved cousins, great-nephews, and great-nieces.