Nature 10
Official Obituary of

Vaughn M. Jaenike

September 30, 1930 ~ March 30, 2023 (age 92) 92 Years Old

Vaughn Jaenike Obituary

Vaughn M. Jaenike of Charleston, Illinois passed away March 30, 2023 with all four of his children at his side helping him transition peacefully. He was born September 30, 1930 in David City, Nebraska to Carl and Lula Jaenike, and married Ruth Lemke on June 27, 1953. After Ruth’s passing, Vaughn was blessed to live an active and meaningful life surrounded by wonderful friends right up to his death at 92 years of age. When it was God’s will, he was anxious to reunite with Ruth, son Kurt, parents Carl and Lula, brother Jean and many other close relatives and friends. He will be a legacy to his surviving children and spouses: Fritz Jaenike and wife Donna of Cedar Park, Texas, Kristen Ballsrud and husband Dave of Grapevine, Texas, Katherine Labinski and husband John of Austin, Texas, Gretchen Norman and husband Ted of Morrison, Colorado; grandchildren Karli and Kayla Jaenike, Nicholas and Jacob Ballsrud, Matthew and Mark Labinski, Andrew and Sam Norman; great grandchildren Beau and Davis Ballsrud; grandchildren spouses; step grandchildren; sister in law Trudy Tribbett and husband Bill of Greenville, South Carolina; and loving nieces and nephews.

Vaughn Jaenike held a Bachelor of Music in Education, Master of Music, and Doctor of Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was a public-school music teacher in Nebraska and Colorado before joining the UN-Lincoln Music faculty in 1967. He served as Special Assistant to the President of the University of Nebraska System, 1972-1974. Vaughn served as the first Dean of the College Fine Arts at Eastern Illinois University, 1974-1993, and upon retirement continued to serve EIU as a part-time Development Officer for the Office of Advancement/Development to 2015, maintaining relationships around the USA.

Vaughn was a role model and an inspiration for so many, and his vision and support for the arts, education and community had a tremendous impact on all whose paths he crossed.

As Dean, Vaughn was instrumental in the planning, fund-raising and construction of EIU’s Tarble Arts Center, was president of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans presiding over groups in Vienna, Florence, Budapest, Prague, Ottawa, and others, was an officer and board member of the Illinois Arts Alliance/Illinois Arts Action Coalition, and chairperson of the Illinois Arts Advisory Committee.  

Vaughn and Ruth Jaenike received a Jefferson Award for Public Service (2012) and were named EIU Foundation Honorary Lifetime Members (2018). Throughout his time at Eastern and life in Charleston, Vaughn Jaenike has been a champion for Eastern, and has worked to develop relationships between the university and the community and beyond. These include the creation of the annual Celebration: A Festival of the Arts, the Ruth and Vaughn Access to the Arts grant program, a Business and the Arts program, and set the underlying credo for the Tarble Arts Center to “take the arts to the people”.

Vaughn and Ruth were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church since 1974 and exemplified faith in action through philanthropy and community service. They volunteered with Coalition for People in Need and supported Sarah Bush Foundation and many other community organizations. As well, Vaughn was an active member of Charleston Rotary Club for 49 years.

Vaughn’s highest priority was his wife and family. He had a special relationship with Ruth based on respect, mutual priorities, and most of all true love. He had a unique bond with each of his children who will greatly miss his guidance and unconditional love.

If you would like to share your personal thoughts or stories, his children would be most appreciative. Please send them to

A celebration of Vaughn’s life will be held at 3pm April 30th at Immanuel Lutheran Church with a reception following at the Tarble Arts Center. Memorials in his honor may be given to the EIU Foundation - Jaenike Access to the Arts Endowment or Immanuel Lutheran Church

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Celebration of Life
April 30, 2023

3:00 PM
Immanuel Lutheran Church
902 Cleveland Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920


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