To those that knew her, Dawn Van Buskirk always had a smile on her face.
“She was a happy person all the time,” Lana Wolken said.
Wolken and Van Buskirk worked together at the University of Illinois. But Wolken also counted Van Buskirk as a friend.
They attended Zumba fitness classes together. Walked Van Buskirk’s dogs together.
“She made friends easy,” Wolken said. “People were drawn to her.”
Friends and family gathered on Monday to say good-bye to the St. Joseph woman who left a lasting impression on them.
Van Buskirk passed away July 21 after a battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Jeff Van Buskirk, daughters Abigail Rowe and
Cassidy Bagby, her sister, Lindsay Riesel, and her brothers, T.J. Ribbe and his wife Lisa, and Daniel Ribbe and his wife Tonia. She is also
survived by her father, Daniel Ribbe and his wife Charlotte and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Linda Lou, and a brother, Troy Ray Ribbe.
Dana Rowland had known Dawn since their daughters were in elementary school. Rowland said Dawn was always upbeat and positive and was like
a second mother to Libby, who is best friends with Dawn’s daughter, Cassidy. Rowland said Dawn was someone Libby looked up to.
“Whether it was working at the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, taking the girls shopping for Toys for Tots or just hanging out at their house by the pool, she was always a good role model,” Rowland said.
Dawn dedicated her life to her family and her community.
St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges said Dawn’s commitment to her community and her pleasant demeanor will be missed.
“She was such a nice person,” she said. “She was easy to talk to, thoughtful and kind. Our community should be thankful that we were blessed to have her for the time that we did.”
Dawn and Cassidy took several mission trips to the Dominican Republic with Windsor Road Christian Church, and she volunteered as a guest services member with the church in Champaign.
“She was a woman of strong faith,” Wolken said. “She told me many times that she felt very blessed.”
She also worked as a realtor, in the hospitality industry and as Expo Director for the Christie Clinic Marathon.
Friend Angela Page said Dawn always dedicated herself to service. Page said Dawn was always willing to step up and step in wherever she
“Her work through Champaign West Rotary led her to volunteer her time and talents to such causes as swinging a hammer for Habitat for
Humanity, donning a Santa hat as a holiday bell ringer, packing food and raising money for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, packing diapers for the Bottom Line Diaper Bank, the Illinois Marathon. Honestly, the list goes on and on,” Page said. “The bottom line is, Dawn was everywhere; and because she helped instill the love of service in her husband and daughters, her impact will be felt for years to come.”
Wolken said Dawn’s easygoing personality and supportive nature made people feel at ease with her.
“She is so genuine and made me feel at ease with her and made me feel so special as I know she was that way with others too,” Wolken said. “Her connection with people was something I had never seen before. She made friends easy and people were drawn to her.”
St. Joseph resident Karin Poulter said Dawn was always looking to lift people up.
“I remember seeing Dawn at one of the grade school open houses when our girls were in second grade,” Poulter said. “She told me about a sales
position opening she had. She believed in me before I believed in myself and gave me a boost of confidence that was much needed. I’ll always remember her big smile and her even bigger giving heart.”
Rowland said that was just who Dawn was.
“Everyone that knew her was a better person because of it,” Rowland said.
Wolken echoed those sentiments.
“Her kindness to everyone showed how sincere she was,” Wolken said. “She was always willing to help anyone at anytime. Her impact on this community that she lived in and all around the area proves how much she was admired and loved for who she truly was.”