Gisele Kay McMinimy, one of the sweetest and strongest souls, joined heaven on June 4, 2021 after living and loving here on earth since her birth on December 19, 1963, in Ashland, KS. She died peacefully at her sister’s Wichita home wrapped in the love of family and friends after a multi-year journey with breast cancer.
She is survived by her mother, Eldora McMinimy of Sitka, KS, sister, Vera Bothner (Jim) of Wichita, KS, brother Kendall McMinimy (Anne Morrissey) of Fremont, WI, and beloved nieces and nephews Hannah and Jace Bothner and Mackenzie and Finnian McMinimy. She was preceded in death by her father William (Bill) McMinimy and grandparents Vernon and Naomi McMinimy and Ralph and Eleanor McReynolds.
Gisele radiated positivity and genuinely embraced all that life is, even during the years of chemo, radiation and the overall uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis, inspiring us all. She lived life fully and well, pursuing her many interests, always enjoying the people, nature, music and beauty she surrounded herself with.
One of her greatest passions was to travel, which she did with family, friends and just as readily on her own. She frequently set off across the country in search of quaint towns, eclectic shops, music festivals, flea markets and great food and beverages-- texting photos of her adventures to family and friends. Her travels extended to nearly every state where she always found the best restaurants, breweries, stores and gardens. She especially enjoyed international travel, including to Mexico, Italy, England and France.
She beat the medical odds at every turn, and even medical appointments became an opportunity to have fun and create memories as she planned 11 trips around treatments at MD Anderson with visits to quaint and historic cities, sites, beautiful botanical gardens, restaurants and breweries along the way and in Houston.
Gisele’s inspired home reflected her wayfaring with vintage finds from estate sales and antique shops, mile-high stacks of books, overstuffed cushiony furniture and her treasured piano. Warm months were her favorites, spent swinging in her hammock or reading on her sun porch, contemplating her garden. She had many close friends from childhood, college and work, including the self-dubbed “Peaches.” She laughed often and easily with friends, family and colleagues. She was a purveyor of great coffee in every format, red wine, dark craft beer and artisanal cocktails especially with elderflower or lavender. A voracious reader, she enjoyed her book club and hosting themed events for them.
Always in search of the trifecta of artisanal food, beautiful outdoor settings and great music, Gisele was drawn to festival venues near and far. She was a regular at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Colorado, reveling in the music and the mountains. She loved all kinds of music, including folk, indie, rock, piano solos and opera.
Gisele was born in Ashland, KS, and lived a quintessential ranch life at the family home property in Sitka, KS on the third-generation farm. The oldest of the three McMinimy children, she excelled at school, read beyond her years and loved living in the country, playing with her siblings and cousins during their treasured visits plus raising and showing her quarter horse, Shauna Mac, including winning champion horse showmanship at the county fair.
After graduating from Kansas State University, majoring in Agricultural Journalism, Gisele worked at the Kansas Bankers Association and Kansas Children’s Service League before joining the communications team at Friends University. She served Friends for 25 years, retiring as Director of Brand and Communications in 2019 due to cancer. She was dedicated to her job and the university and spent long hours writing, editing and collaborating to create beautiful publications, websites, videos, ads and more while attending graduations, candlelight concerts and other beautiful higher education events. She was a graceful mentor and supervisor to many young professionals and student workers and a beloved colleague with her trademark smile, laugh, optimism, dedication and professionalism, all with a fun streak.
Known for her kindness, Gisele made friends everywhere, from her work life to her Bunko group and book club to fellow board members on the Opera Kansas board where she served for years. Her quick laugh and gentle nature drew people to her, including her many health care providers throughout the course of her illness. She adored Dr. Mattar, Cathy Spangler and the entire Cancer Center of Kansas team.
Gisele loved her nieces and nephews unconditionally and would spend hours with them, including playing every official and made-up game. As they grew into adults, she was their biggest cheerleader and champion. One of the family’s favorite traditions was Christmas Eve at Aunt ‘Sel’s house as she created magic with decorations, candles, food, Christmas stockings and love.
Gisele will forever be found in the Kansas sunset, one of her favorite times of day, at the moment when the entire horizon becomes a perfect shade of pink, reflecting all her love, warmth, beauty and light.
A celebration of Gisele’s beautiful light and life will be held at Botanica on Friday, June 25th at 2 p.m.
It was Gisele’s wish that memorial tributes be made to the Gisele McMinimy Scholarship at Friends University, Advancement Office, 2100 W University Avenue, Wichita, KS 67213 or the Bartlett Arboretum in care of the Legacy Foundation, P.O. Box 713, Winfield, KS 60190.