Cover photo for Gisele Marie Bauman's Obituary
1964 Gisele 2024

Gisele Marie Bauman

July 8, 1964 — June 5, 2024

Ozark

Gisele Marie Drake Bauman, a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother and “GiGi” – as well as an accomplished medical executive – died on June 5, 2024 after a long, valiant battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was 59. 


Gisele was born and raised in Ozark, Missouri, the youngest of Raymond and Gisela Drake’s three daughters. She graduated near the top of her class from Ozark High School in 1982 and studied microbiology and chemistry at Missouri State University, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1986. She earned a master’s degree in health administration from Webster University in 2012.


She had a distinguished career that spanned more than three decades at CoxHealth, one of the largest regional health systems in Missouri. She began there just out of college as a bench medical technologist and rose to direct its sprawling network of medical laboratories. Sadly, she was not able to begin a position she had accepted as vice president for CoxHealth at Home due to her illness.


A vast legion of people mourn her – family, friends, classmates and colleagues from every realm and era of her life. Chief among them are her mother, Gisela Drake, her husband, Chris, her children Drake, Paige and Sophia, her grandson, Grayson, and her sisters, Damaris Crow and Yvonne Marsh. Her in-laws Sylvia “Yia-Yia” Bauman, Tame’ Bauman, Del Bauman, Cliff and Krystal Bauman, Sandra and Aaron Roy, and John Crow, as well as her nieces and nephews grieve her loss deeply, too. Her father, Raymond Drake, predeceased her in 2022.


Gisele became central to every community she belonged to and she belonged to many. She forged deep connections with work colleagues, running buddies, childhood friends, German cousins and an online network of twin moms that she would say “lived in her computer.” 


As one friend put it, Gisele had a way of making people feel seen, and people were naturally drawn to her. A gentle and effective leader, Gisele’s kindness and compassion were matched only by her intellect and curiosity. 


“She was the smartest person in just about every room she entered – but she didn’t necessarily have to let you know that,” says her husband, Chris. 


She also had a salty sense of humor – and she made it a priority to have fun with the people she loved. Weekends at the lakehouse, BBQs by the pool, Chiefs games with friends and those epic Disney trips that she chronicled on Facebook – Gisele was up for a party and those lucky enough to be in her company were bound to have a good time.


Her partnership with Chris is a love story for the ages. They met when they were both in their early twenties, working at Dillards. She was at the jewelry counter; he was on the loading dock. In their 35-year marriage, Chris says they were always in communication with each other. They faced obstacles in their marriage as a team. When he served in the Army during the Iraq war in 2005-06, they went to extraordinary lengths to stay in communication. They had a system where he would mail her his dusty sheets, and she would wash them and send them back to him, vacuum sealed. “I would get one fleeting, fresh whiff of home when I opened that package,” Chris says. They couldn’t change the desert wind – or the war – but they could face it together.   


They knew with certainty that they wanted to be parents, but they had trouble conceiving. Some stories about her path to motherhood illustrate much about her character – her studied focus, her open nature, her abiding sense of justice, her commitment to community. 


When they faced infertility, she researched the problems and weighed their options. In the late 1990s, in vitro fertilization was more expensive and less effective than it would become. They decided to pursue an open adoption and with tremendous gratitude, became Drake’s parents on February 20, 1998. 


Where another person might shy away from open adoption, Gisele embraced an idea she’d heard and repeated that “there can’t be too many people to love a child.” The family stays in contact with Drake’s birth mother, Amy Weber, to this day.


When Drake was an infant, parental leave from work for adoptive parents was rare. With characteristic diplomacy and thoroughness, Gisele made the case to the CoxHealth leadership that it should change its policy to offer adoptive parents the same leave other parents got. The health system changed. Her advocacy put CoxHealth ahead of the curve as an employer that could offer a supportive family policy that has become much more common now. 


“She was persuasive, informed and so, so good with her words,” says her sister, Damaris. “It was hard to argue with her and she was usually right.”


“Changing the policy didn’t benefit her,” says her daughter, Paige, noting her sense of justice. “What mattered to her was what would happen to the people who came after her.”


Gisele was also determined and pragmatic. As Drake got older, she wanted more children and decided to pursue in vitro fertilization, which had become more effective and more affordable. “She wanted to experience being pregnant,” Chris says. “She loved being a woman and she found it powerful.” They were beyond thrilled to welcome twins, Sophia and Paige in July 2003. 


Her impulse to do some research while she was pregnant brought her to a Twins Magazine message board, where she helped a community cohere and made dear friends she would have for the rest of her life. The magazine and the message board no longer exist, but the community does and Gisele was central in it. 


Where other people saw obstacles, Chris says, Gisele found her strength. She started running in 2012 and would go on to run nine marathons and 20 half-marathons in seven years. Running was inextricably linked with – and an extraordinary counterpoint to – her journey with cancer. 


That first Disneyworld marathon she ran just eight weeks after her initial breast cancer surgery. Running taught her “a relentless pursuit of forward momentum,” according to Chris, and she would use that idea to propel her to the very end. She ran her last Disney half-marathon with her daughters in November 2019, despite a backache that would turn out to be metastasis of breast cancer in her spine. 


Cancer – ever cruel – was particularly mean to Gisele in this latest incarnation. She was diagnosed in March 2020, just as the pandemic engulfed the world. And her disease had transformed into triple negative breast cancer, the hardest type to treat. Still, she faced it bravely and in community, with a rallying cry of #IntoTheBreach. She appreciated every prayer and good thought that hundreds of friends and family gave her. She lived more than double the predicted prognosis of 18 to 24 months. 


And live she did in this last chapter of her story. Just a month ago, she saw the Grand Canyon for the first time on a wonderful trip with her husband and dear friends Brenda and Troy Galloway. Less than a week before she joined her father in heaven, she was enjoying a Memorial Day pool party with her grand nieces and grandson Grayson. She was so happy to take a trip to Disney with Grayson and Drake in February, and enjoyed a cruise to New England with Chris and twin mommy friend Harmony Wu in October 2023. 


To the very end, Gisele was not dying. She was fighting to live, with all the strength and love and even humor that she brought to every day of her life. A person of deep faith, Gisele told her family that she had no fear of death. 


“Now she’s gone where we can’t follow. But we can follow the example of how she lived in that journey we’ll all face someday,”  says Damaris. “She loved the hymn ‘All is well with my soul.’ And that is how she lived.” 


To honor her memory, the family has founded the Gisele Bauman Memorial Scholarship Fund. They ask for donations to the fund in lieu of flowers. The scholarship will support the education of a promising young woman interested in the medical sciences and CoxHealth as an employer. 


Services for Gisele Marie Bauman will be held Friday, June 14, 2024 with a visitation from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. at Adams Funeral Home, Ozark, Missouri. The Celebration of Life ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. It will be followed by a graveside service and burial at Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Springfield at 1:00 p.m. The service will be livestreamed here on the Adams website for those who cannot be there in person.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, June 14, 2024

10:00 - 11:30 am

Adams Funeral Home - Ozark

504 W Walnut St, Ozark, MO 65721

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Celebration of Life

Friday, June 14, 2024

11:30am - 12:30 pm

Adams Funeral Home - Ozark

504 W Walnut St, Ozark, MO 65721

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Graveside Service

Friday, June 14, 2024

1:00 - 1:15 pm

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Fellowship time

Friday, June 14, 2024

1:30 - 3:30 pm

OIC (Ozark Innovation Center)

1600 W. Jackson St., Ozark, MO 65721

Join the family and friends of Gisele for fellowship and food.

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