‘Even in death, she was giving,’ says husband of KC mother, city’s 48th traffic fatality

LaShan Townsend-Gunnels, a 52-year-old mother and grandmother, was turning south onto Troost Avenue on June 7, having just dropped a grandson off that morning at summer day camp, when a Chevy Silverado, speeding north just before 8 a.m. swerved and plowed into the driver’s side of her GMC Terrain near 83rd Terrace. The force of impact flipped the SUV on its side.

Seven days later, on June 14, her husband, Glenn Gunnels, made the hard choice to take his wife of 24 years off of life support. Kansas City police on Wednesday released Townsend-Gunnels’ name, recording her as the city’s 48th traffic fatality, a number that is up 37% over this time last year.

“Even in death,” Glenn Gunnels of Kansas City said, “she was giving.”

Townsend-Gunnels, an employee of Community America Credit Union who had previously worked for DST Systems for more than 24 years, was an organ donor. Five recipients received the gift of her tissue, her husband said.

In 2007, The Star published a “Love Story” profile of LaShan and Glenn Gunnels in The Star’s Sunday magazine. The piece focused on the couple’s abiding faith.

LaShan Gunnels, 52, killed in a car accident on June 7, 2024, was the subject of KC Star “Love Story” profile, along with her husband, Glenn, in the Star’s magazine in 2007.
LaShan Gunnels, 52, killed in a car accident on June 7, 2024, was the subject of KC Star “Love Story” profile, along with her husband, Glenn, in the Star’s magazine in 2007.

“The more we focus on our blessing and our God, the stronger our marriage is,” she said in a piece that, although brief, did not shy from the difficulties the couple faced many years earlier. It spoke of the deaths of relatives, Glenn’s drug use, and his recovery as both of them dedicated their lives to God.

They met in 1996 and married in 2000. Combined, the couple had two sons and six daughters, one of whom, Patrice Gunnels, 25, was killed in Dallas in 2018 from a gunshot wound following an apparent argument. Glenn Gunnels said no one was prosecuted. Another daughter, 26, is currently battling thyroid cancer.

Through both blessings and trials, Gunnels said, he and his wife relied on the strength of their faith.

“I just know that God’s timing is not our timing,” Gunnels said.

The couple was to celebrate their 25th anniversary next year. Recently, they traveled to New York City and from there took a 10-day cruise to Bermuda. Next year they were to go to Hawaii as part of their anniversary. Gunnels said that if he has any regrets is that they did not take the trip earlier.

“She had been asking for the last five years,” he said.

More than 200 people, Gunnels said, including friends, relatives and co-workers, visited Townsend-Gunnels while she lay unconscious in the intensive care unit. One co-worker traveled from Dallas to be at her side.

“She had a very giving spirit,” Gunnels said. “All she ever did was share the love of Christ. She looked for the best in each individual. She was a wonderful person and always giving of herself to others.”

Gunnels said he looked to God in the decision to remove his spouse from life support.

“I had to pray about it,” he said. “God told me that He created the heavens and earth in five days. He created man on the sixth day. On the seventh, he rested.”

Seven days after the collision, Gunnels said, it was his wife’s time to rest.

A funeral is being planned for Saturday. Details are pending.