KOYEN, Esther |
Feb. 2, 1921 - Jan. 30, 2014
Esther Christiana Nielsen was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, February 2, 1921, to Danish immigrants, Mads and Karen Nielsen. The family moved to and permanently settled in Fremont, NE, where Esther attended primary and secondary school. She met the love of her life, Rodney Koyen, and they were married in March of 1940.
The city girl moved to the country, became a farmer's wife and learned about crops and livestock. During her married life she also was involved in the railroad salvage business, owning apartments, dairy cows, and raising poultry in one of the country's first cage houses.
She was also immediately challenged as a young wife. She lost her mother soon after she was married, so this town-girl farmer's wife-with her own mother gone-took in her two youngest brothers and a sister, and cared for them until they were old enough to go out on their own.
Rod and Esther started their own family with the birth of their daughter in 1943. Karen was followed by Gary, then Cindy and finally Steve.
Esther was raised a Lutheran but joined Rod as a member of the First Baptist Church of Fremont where she taught Sunday School for over 20 years and served twice as President of the Esther Guild. She and Rod led the Sunday evening Baptist Youth Fellowship for many years.
She was particularly proud of the time she spent teaching Home Healthcare to Senior girls who often found careers in that field.
Esther loved people, loved to entertain, and made sure the Koyen farmhouse was open to the families, friends, and the friends of her children. She never knew who or how many might be there for lunch or dinner, but no one went away hungry or without having laughed.
For Nebraska farm people Rod and Esther could be pretty adventurous. They drove all over Mexico in 1970, saw Western Australia and New Zealand, and traveled much of the United States. They retired to Lake Havasu, AZ, where they found a host of new friends, played golf, and enjoyed the desert warmth and spectacular views of the lake and desert.
Rod and Esther were married for 59 years at the time Rod passed on in 1999, and she remained in Havasu for four years before moving to Austin, TX, to be near eldest daughter Karen and her husband, Paul. In Austin, as everywhere she went, she quickly formed friendships and set about enjoying life. She especially loved the symphony and opera.
She spent many of her days in Austin working to raise funds to support the children of the Settlement Home. Monday mornings found her working in the linens department-a very special part of her life.
She did not know boredom and remained curious and interested in sports, politics, music, reading, religion and learning to the end of her days. She never lost her zest for life and friendships. She loved good food and an occasional glass of wine, and was comfortable with her own company and she enjoyed playing bridge, especially when she played her cards well and won the money. At just shy of 93 she played good bridge up to the week before her death.
Esther is survived by her four children: Karen Koyen Leeke and Paul Leeke of Austin, TX, Gary Koyen of Boulder, CO, Cynthia Koyen McGee of Arroyo Grande, CA, and Stephen and Jeanne Koyen of Beaverton, OR. She is also survived by five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, February 17, 2014 at Bethany United Methodist Church, 10010 Anderson Mill Road.
Memorials may be made to The Settlement Home for Children, The Austin Symphony, Bethany Methodist Church or the
Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Feb. 15 to Feb. 16, 2014