Ann (Cowan) Van Doren died of natural causes on May 7, 2022, at Via Christi Village in Manhattan, KS. She was 98 years old. Born Nelley Ann Cowan on October 10, 1923, in Kansas City, MO, to Austin Marcus Cowan, attorney at law and Dr. Edwina Abbott Cowan, Director and Clinical Psychologist of the Wichita Child Guidance Center.
Raised in Wichita, KS, her childhood summers were spent camping in Colorado with family – a tradition she continued with her husband and children.
In 1943 Ann met the love of her life, Claude Van Doren at Wichita State University. Ann has always been the type of person to get things done. When Claude left for the Navy Air Corps to fight in World War II, she decided to call his mother for his mailing address. She wanted to see more of him. Claude wrote Ann back and their courtship began.
Once Claude returned from War, both he and Ann went to Kansas University. Ann earned a bachelor’s degree in 1946 and Claude completed a degree in architecture in 1950. They were married in 1947. Claude became a prominent Wichita architect who designed several buildings statewide.
Ann’s involvement in her community is legendary. First as an Alpha Chi Omega member where she continued her service to her sorority by serving as alumnae president for the Wichita chapter. In 2000 she was named the Wichita Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega Alumna of the Year for her 50 years of service. Other nonprofits that received her gifts of time include numerous positions with the American Cancer Society of Sedgwick County (35 plus years), Wichita Town Talks (3 years), and Junior League of Wichita (56 years). She also served as president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, taught Sunday School at Plymouth Congregational Church (10 years), volunteered at the Wichita Art Museum (10 years), and was an active member of University Congregational Church of Wichita.
Between all of that, Ann kept busy raising four children. Later she worked at Wichita State University as the executive secretary to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for 15 years. After retiring in 1988, she volunteered at WSU as a test proctor for 15 plus years.
Claude and Ann celebrated 35 years of marriage before his passing in 1982. Their children have many fond memories of their parents’ love for each other. One that happened often was their dancing in the den to the sounds of Perry Como on the record player after a hard day’s work.
They enjoyed entertaining and once their children had grown, Ann and Claude continued filling the house with family and friends from Sunday dinners to the annual Van Doren Christmas party. Ann was also the coordinator of most if not all of the local Van Doren family reunions. She was a natural at bringing people together.
In addition to her love of family, Ann was an incredible friend. She traveled to all 50 states together with four of her Alpha Chi Omega sisters. She also hosted weekly bridge for years and a monthly book club that lasted 35 years.
Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Austin M. Cowan, Esq. and Dr. Edwina A. Cowan, husband Claude A. Van Doren Jr., brothers Edwin and David Cowan, and sons Marc and Eric Van Doren. Survivors include her daughter Claudia Voos (Terry) of Manhattan, KS, son Kirk Van Doren of Wichita, KS, seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Wichita University Congregational Church, Friday, June 10th, at 10:30 AM. Ann will be laid to rest alongside her husband Claude at Maple Grove Cemetery in a private family ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Memory of Ann Van Doren to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Kansas (https://namikansas.org/donate_now/ or NAMI Kansas; P.O. Box 675; Topeka, KS 66601). NAMI has provided support and resources for Ann’s youngest son throughout his adult life.