Pauline Gutierrez lived a life fully expressed. How many people really
do? Anyone who knew her well knew her loyalties and passions –
family, faith, liberal politics and Tom Selleck every Friday night.
After surviving many health battles, including a debilitating stroke,
Pauline died of pneumonia on Dec. 9, 2021, with three of her four
remaining children, two of her grandchildren, and a son-in-law at her
hospital bedside in Johnson County, Kansas. ICU nurses commented
that Pauline must have been well loved. She was.
She was steely as the Flint Hills where she was born during a
record-breaking heat wave on June 22, 1936, in Florence, Kansas, to
Apolonio and Florentina Palacio. She brought the heat for the next 85
She and her brother, Bernard, grew up in a stop on the road named
Bazaar in Chase County, Kansas. Her mother tended a garden and
chickens and her father worked on the Santa Fe railroad and
concocted home brew in the cellar.
She went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse and graduated
from the high school in Chase County in 1954.
She graduated from Newman Hospital School of Nursing in Emporia,
Kansas, becoming a registered nurse in the days when they wore
starched white caps and uniforms. She worked her entire career in
The girl from the country married a jazz musician from the city. She
raised five children with Antonio Gutierrez, who decided carrying mail
was a better way to support a family.
They married Feb. 27, 1960, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in
Topeka, the parish where they raised their children.
Like her own mother, Pauline was an old-school mom. She insisted
the tinsel be placed on the Christmas tree. One. Strand. At. A. Time.
When her children were young they believed she had eyes in the back
of her head.
Pauline also perfected the side-eye.
Many memories of Pauline revolve around food. She was the master
of the 1960s table, serving salads of iceberg lettuce topped with
cottage cheese and sliced cling peaches from a can. She put Miracle
Whip on her tostados.
To this day, her children swear no one could make a better chocolate
cake, cheeseburger or crispy French fries.
She was a fun mom who introduced her children to music (country),
theater (Starlight) and movies (drive-ins). She loved glamour, from
watching Miss America pageants to reading about Hollywood’s
biggest stars and took her fur stole out of storage for special
The plastic bag industry has been dealt a blow. Pauline would fill bags
with paper products, groceries and coupons and pass them out to her
children – even when they were adults.
The neighbor kids called her mom, which made some of her own kids
jealous. But they later came to understand what a compliment that
She was a helper who modeled service to others. She volunteered
many years at Sacred Heart’s annual Junefest/Germanfest. She
belonged to the women’s auxiliary of the local letter carriers
association, helping with fundraisers.
She wasn’t afraid to share her political views. She was a fierce and
loyal Democrat who volunteered for many campaigns, including
former Congressman Jim Slattery’s.
She was a news junkie who called everyone in the family when big
news broke on CNN or MSNBC - even her first born who works in a
Long before The Weather Channel, she was the family meteorologist.
How many times she called her adult children warning them about bad
weather – snow, ice, tornadoes – coming their way.
Pauline was not given a middle name at birth, but her children know
her middle name was “Family.”
She was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, daughter Lydia
Schmidt, an infant sister Ysabel, stepson Vincent Gutierrez and son-in-law
Missing her are her children Lisa Houser of Overland Park; Lori Wickliffe
and her husband, Kevin, of Lawrence; Anthony Gutierrez and his wife,
Amy, of Salisbury, Md.; son-in-law Kevin Schmidt; Ron Gutierrez and his
wife, Agatha, of Overland Park; stepdaughter Deborah Hunter and her
husband, Jeff, and a daughter from another mother, Lisa Sandmeyer, of
Pauline also is survived by 16 grandchildren and a passel of
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 14th at Brennan-Mathena Funeral Home from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. where a Daughters of Isabella rosary will be prayed at 4:30 p.m. which Pauline joined in 1968, and an Altar Society Rosary will be prayed at 5:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 15th at 11:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Private interment will be at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Augustinian Recollect
Missionary Sisters in care of Brennan-Mathena Funeral Home, 800 SW 6th Ave., Topeka, Kansas 66603.
Online condolences and fond memories may be left at www.brennanmathenafh.com.