We Will Miss You, Kathy

by John C. Westervelt

Kathy Koenig’s husband Neal has been transferred to Houston by CITGO, so they are moving. I’ll miss Kathy. I first met Kathy when she was teaching a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class of eleven pre-kindergarten boys at Asbury. I was her volunteer aid. The boys enjoyed Miss Kathy’s class even though she was a firm disciplinarian. The children sensed her love for them. Our next year’s class was a dozen children evenly divided between boys and girls. Little discipline was needed for this group.

Over the years, while I rested on spring breaks, Kathy would be on a mission trip to Houston with Asbury’s seventh-graders or on a trip to Kentucky with eighth-graders. In 2002 Kathy and her daughter Erica went to Estonia and Camp Gideon with a group from Asbury to help with arts and crafts and to love the campers.

There were times when Kathy would leave the preschool classroom a little before three o’clock and end up later in the Asbury kitchen to help prepare a Wednesday night dinner. On many Sunday nights, Kathy fixed snacks for the youth.

When the windows of the three-year-old classroom were covered with sheet rock for office expansion beside the courtyard, Kathy decided the opaque windows should have curtains. She chose the children’s favorite colors to brighten the room. She installed compression curtain rods holding four vertical strips of material in red, yellow, green, and blue. This treatment brings a bit of the rainbow inside.

Kathy, a second-generation graduate of Nebraska University, studied child development, while Neal, her husband-to-be, was in the civil engineering school. Kathy and Neal have lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana two times, and Tulsa has been their home twice.

During their stay in Tulsa, Kathy and Neal were president of Asbury’s Couples for Christ Community for several terms. Kathy served on Asbury’s preschool board, the regional outreach missions group, and the leadership team. However, Kathy’s greatest passion has always been teaching preschool children and helping with the youth.

Amy, one of the teachers in Asbury’s weekday four-year-old class, met Kathy and Neal in 1977 when Amy’s husband was a new hire at CITGO in Lake Charles. Amy shared that from the beginning Kathy and Neal were working with the youth at First UMC in Lake Charles. In 1978, Kathy and Amy opened a childcare center at Maplewood UMC in Sulphur, a suburb of Lake Charles. Some years later, Kathy developed a childcare program at Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Lake Charles.

Jennifer, Kathy and Neal’s oldest daughter, stayed at Louisiana State University when the Koenigs moved back to Tulsa. Jennifer has continued her studies at LSU and is now a doctoral student in psychology. Erica graduated from Jenks high school in May and is a freshman at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

Fortunately, Asbury has an "In His Steps" program that will find the volunteers needed to fill the gap left by Kathy’s move to her new home in Humble, Texas. To fully replace Kathy will require someone with an easy chuckle, a warm smile, profuse energy, and a giving spirit. The children, the teachers, the youth and their parents will miss you, Kathy. I felt your love, and I’ll miss that.

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