Alice Koelsch Schultz

Alice Koelsch Schultz
Longtime Cowlitz and Clark County resident Alice Koelsch Schultz died in the early morning hours of Thursday, February 20, 2014. Mother, senior care pioneer and devout Christian, Alice passed peacefully surrounded by her family. Alice was the living embodiment of grace, dignity and strength. Most striking was Alice's rare combination of an iron will coupled with a gracious, warm demeanor. She could dispense learned wisdom and offer a warm, loving embrace with equal ease.
Alice was born in Salem, Oregon on August 15, 1922. She attended Laurelwood Academy, Coos Bay High School and graduated from Portland Adventist Academy. In the early 40's she made her way to Longview Washington working there in the saw mills and as a waitress. While waiting tables at the St. Helen's Inn she met Emmett Koelsch, a hard working young man from Kansas. They were soon married and began raising their large family.
Evidence of Alice's courage is found in the genesis of the Koelsch family senior housing business. With a house full of young children, Alice and Emmett risked everything, sold the family home and purchased the Monticello Hall, a small shuttered nursing home (currently the New Horizon Church) in Kelso, Washington in 1958. Alice, Emmett and their children moved into the basement of the empty nursing home and the entire family pitched in to get the building ready to care for the residents who would eventually move in. Alice was a hands on owner with an unmatched work ethic. She paid attention to every detail in caring for her residents, from how the sheets were folded to the temperature of the coffee.
From that humble and modest beginning, Alice and her family expanded their senior care business across Cowlitz County and Washington State, including constructing one of the nation's first Retirement Living communities in Longview in1971, known as the Delaware Plaza, which is still in operation today. Particularly noteworthy was Alice's vision in opening the Cottonwood Lodge in Longview in the early seventies. It was one of the very first facilities to provide care and services to developmentally disabled adults so they could lead productive lives in a community setting. All five of her children followed Alice's lead into senior housing and today the family collectively operates over 65 communities in 12 states.
Despite never having the opportunity to experience higher education, Alice became self-educated. She was the driving force behind her children attending college and graduate school. She also was diligent in exposing her children, and then her grandchildren and great grandchildren to the arts, music and culture. She counted among her children and grandchildren physicians, nurses, collegiate athletes, business executives and owners, construction contractors and film makers. Each of the Koelsch children attributes their success to their parents' pioneering spirit, vision and perseverance.
Alice was a lifelong Seventh Day Adventist and her faith in God and Jesus Christ as her savior were unwavering. Generosity was also one of Alice's' core traits and she counted the Seventh Day Adventist church, Loma Linda University and International Children's Care as some of her favorite beneficiaries, in addition to countless individuals that she helped along the way.
To the end of her remarkable life, Alice Koelsch Schultz carried herself with the same grace, dignity and strength that defined her. When it came time for her to pass, she did it on her terms, directing her own care and letting her children know when she was ready to go. She simply would not have it any other way.
Alice is survived by her five children and their families: Nancy Munro of Olympia, Washington, Peggy Wagner of Vancouver, Washington, Kathy Erwin of Vancouver, Washington, Sally Ziprick of Spokane, Washington and Aaron Koelsch of Olympia, Washington. She is also survived by her two stepchildren, Lorraine Schultz of Portland, Oregon and Ernie Schultz of Pasadena, California. Alice was predeceased by her husbands, Emmett Koelsch and Dr. Robert Schultz and by her brother Robert McCormick. She is survived by her sister in law Martha McCormick, of Vancouver, Washington and her sister Elaine Snyder of Ryderwood, Washington and their families. Alice was blessed with 14 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.
A memorial service for Alice will take place at the 3:00 pm, Saturday, March 1, 2014 at the Seventh Day Adventist Community Church located at 9711 NE St. John's Road, Vancouver, Washington, 98665.
Alice's wishes were to have any donations made in lieu of flowers to International Children's Care. Donations can be made online at, or by mail to PO Box 820610, Vancouver, WA, 98682-0013.

Published in San Bernardino Sun on Feb. 26, 2014