The faculty and students of the Linguistics Program mourn the passing of Colene Van Deusen, Class of '48. Her generosity continues to have a significant impact on the education of our undergraduates. In helping to establish the Gilbert W. Meier and Colene McKinney Undergraduate Internship, she provided an important opportunity for Washington University undergraduates to gain additional training in linguistic research. The brief obituary below was graciously provided by her son, Dr. Richard P. Meier (GR75).
After a long struggle with dementia, Colene ("Coke") Van Deusen died in Austin, TX on August 29, 2016. She was born Janice Colene McKinney in the town of Kennett in the southeastern Missouri Bootheel; her parents were Cole H. McKinney and Pauline Hammel. Her parents soon divorced; Coke was raised in St. Louis by her mother Pauline and her stepfather, Harry Kolbenschlag. After graduating as the valedictorian of her high school class, Coke attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied math and chemistry. She received her bachelor's degree in 1948. She would always regret the fact that she had been unable to pursue a doctorate in chemistry.
After college, Coke was a high school science and math teacher in Saint Louis County, MO, San Juan, PR, and Nashville, TN. Later she was for many years the head of accounting at Millard Lumber Company in Omaha, NE. Coke retired from Millard Lumber in 1996 and then moved to Austin so that she could live close to her son and his family.
Coke was preceded in death by her first husband, Gilbert W. Meier, and by her second husband, Cornelius Van Deusen. Late in life, Gil and Coke reconciled, years after their 1976 divorce. Gil, too, died this year on April 24. Coke is survived by her son Richard P. Meier of Austin, daughter-in-law Madeline Sutherland-Meier, and granddaughter Erica Meier.