March 17, 2005 – July 11, 2023
With deepest sorrow, we announce that Austin James Verhulst, age 18, our beloved son, brother, family member and friend passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at The University of Kansas Hospital.
Austin was born in Kansas City, Missouri to Caitlin Trokey and Joshua Blanton on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2005. We’ve always referred to Austin as “our little leprechaun.” Katie raised Austin as a single mom with much help, support and love from both Katie’s family and Josh’s, until her untimely death in 2013. At this time, Austin was welcomed with open arms into the Verhulst family.
Austin will be missed every day by his parents, Jeremy and Tiffany Verhulst, siblings, Aaron, Waverleigh and Sawyer, his grandparents, Robert and Patricia Verhulst, Mark and Barbara Trokey, Mark and Kathy Reid, and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and many great friends.
We know Austin is reunited in heaven with his beloved mother, Caitlin Trokey and loving grandmother, Linda Trokey, as well as numerous other relatives and pets.
Austin graduated from Lee’s Summit West in May, 2023 and had plans to attend Northwest Missouri State University in the fall. He was previously employed at Culver’s and most recently Texas Roadhouse, where his outgoing personality made work a fun place to be. Austin was also an avid reader, and a book was ever present on his nightstand. His favorite genre was fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling were favorite authors. He greatly enjoyed watching movies and loved theater as well.
Austin was always up for adventure and loved going on family vacations and spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks. Austin’s travels took him to South Carolina, California, New York, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida, amongst many other places. He greatly enjoyed spending time outdoors and cherished the beach, forests, parks, and even his own backyard.
From a young age, Austin was a confident public speaker. He never knew a stranger and was comfortable talking with anyone; he also made people feel exceptionally cared for in his many conversations. Austin found joy being on stage in several local children’s productions including Aladdin Jr, Peter Pan Jr, Cinderella Jr, and was cast as “Jackie” in Cheaper by the Dozen at LSHS when he was ten years old. He loved being a part of this show! He went on to become a member of the Lee’s Summit West Titans Debate and Forensics Team, where his favorite competition category was Dramatic Interpretation. Austin received a varsity letter for his hard work.
Austin was a member of Boy Scout Troop 62 in Kansas City, Missouri and had participated in scouting from the tender age of five. Scouting was a large part of Austin’s life, and the friends and mentors he had through scouts were an exceptional influence on his life, albeit too short. Austin recently earned the rank of Eagle, scouting’s greatest accomplishment. He was a Brotherhood member of the honor camping program, Order of the Arrow, and rose to the elevation of Fire Builder in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say.
Austin lived out the scouting slogan, “Do A Good Turn Daily,” through his final gift of organ donation. Son, we are so proud of you.
Austin’s family extends their heartfelt thanks to the healthcare professionals at St. Luke’s East, The University of Kansas Health System and those with the Midwest Transplant Network for their support and love during the most tragic experience of our lives.
A public visitation is planned for August 5th from 9am to 12pm at The Summit Church in Lee’s Summit at 3381 NW Chipman Road, immediately followed by a memorial service at noon.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Austin’s name to Boy Scout Troop 62 Foundation, 9229 Ward Parkway, Suite 370, Kansas City, MO 64114 or to the Lee’s Summit West Titans Debate and Forensics team.
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” -J.R.R. Tolkien