Jill Jeanette (Hanks) Koehn passed away on January 25, 2017, 5 days shy of her 64th birthday. She died in the same home on the Kansas prairie where she grew up, and where she lived most of her married life.
Food was Mom’s favorite language. She loved spending time cooking and baking for others, skills that were honed after marrying into John Koehn’s family on July 14th 1974. After learning how to make traditional Mennonite dishes, the student became the master. Now that John’s mother has passed away, we can safely say that Mom’s zwieback and New Year’s cookies were better than her mother-in-law’s. Sorry, Grandma.
Mom was terrified of mice, a fear cemented by her son, who chased her around with one when he was very young (though old enough to know better). Locking herself in the bathroom was no escape: he simply pushed the mouse under the door. But Mom had little fear of anything else, and would kindly remove egg-eating bullsnakes from the hens’ nests and relocate them to friendlier environs to protect their cholesterol levels. She was only once scared by a snake, when a rattler struck (unsuccessfully) at her face. She had stopped while mowing to pick up and move what she assumed was a bullsnake, only to discover it wasn’t. When asked what she had done when the rattlesnake struck, she admitted, “I peed just a little.”
Mom had an adventurous spirit, affection for any animal, a nurturing heart, and loved family above all. These traits were good ones for her to possess, as several relatives (by blood and marriage) are, frankly, a bit questionable. These traits also served her well as an elementary school librarian, a job she loved more than anyone has a right to love a job. Of all the children she nurtured and adored, however, only two boys, Kelton and Caleb, are lucky enough to call her Nana.
Mom was one of those rare people who are satisfied with their lot. She had a strong faith, loved her family deeply, found blessings and humor in even the smallest things, had many close friends, and cultivated beauty all around her through her flower and vegetable gardens. She had what she wanted, and wanted what she had. She radiated true joy.
True to her nature, Mom spent her final days thanking others. Her family, including husband John; son Andrew (and Leah); grandsons Kelton and Caleb; daughter Sarah (and Eric); father Joe (and Helen); sisters Connie (and Gregory) and Gloria (and Stan); and brother Van (and Stacy); extended family; and many, many friends will miss her immensely. The only silver lining is that we all may lose a little weight. And we all will strive to be as good as Mom always believed we were.
Services for Jill Koehn will be held on Saturday, February 4 at 11 AM at Dighton’s United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers (or in addition to, as Mom did so love flowers), Mom would hope you would do some unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone else in her name. Memorials should be sent to Boomhower Funeral Home, PO Box 891, Dighton, KS 67839. Mom’s wishes were that memorials be designated for Mennonite Central Committee or Heifer International, so she could continue to help others, even after her death.