Carolyn Joyce Switzer Koester passed away at her residence of the past three years, Gamma Road Lodge in Wellsville, Missouri, on June 16, 2019. Carolyn was the fourth of five children born to Leo B. and Fay Pinkerman Switzer on December 30, 1934 in Huntington, West Virginia. The family traveled by troop train when Carolyn was seven to live in Tucson, Arizona for her mother’s health. Carolyn loved Arizona. She graduated from Tucson High, and worked in a bank to pay her way to college. She attended Oklahoma Christian College in Bartlesville for one year, but had to return home when there was no more money for college.
It was while on a picnic on Mount Lemmon outside Tucson that she was introduced to Frank Koester, an airman stationed at the base there, by her sister Margie and future brother-in-law, Butch. Frank knew immediately that she was the girl for him. They married on April 18, 1955, and as his time with the military ended, made their home in St. Louis County, MO, where he farmed. Their daughter Laura was born there. The young couple bought a farm and moved to Wellsville, Missouri, where they have lived ever since. The family was soon joined by a son, Bruce.
While her children were small, Carolyn served as a Sunday school teacher, room mother, 4-H leader, and Cub Scout leader. She was a member of Studere club, served as president of the Jaycee wives, worked with a group of volunteers who provided therapies to cerebral palsy patients in the early ‘60’s, and was a lifelong member of the Church of Christ, most recently attending with the congregation in Centralia.
Carolyn had always regretted not finishing college, so she took it on herself in the late 1960’s to enroll at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She had to begin by taking some prerequisites by correspondence, and having never had a beginning Algebra class, she was taking that at the same time her daughter had it in 8th grade. Carolyn was part of the early groundbreaking women who returned to college as non-traditional students. With children at home and an hour commute, this was not easy. She graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in education, and became an elementary teacher with the Wellsville school system.
During the same time, the family met a cute blonde toddler who was in the foster care system. Carolyn and Frank began the difficult process of adopting Nathan, which was complicated by the fact that he had living relatives, and an effort had to be made to locate them before adoption could proceed. As time went on, it became apparent that Nathan had significant developmental delays and behavior issues related to abuse when he was an infant. Fighting on Nathan’s behalf for him to receive an appropriate education and services in the early days of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act was not well received by all parties involved, and it was a difficult path for the Koesters.
While this was going on, Carolyn pursued a Masters Degree from MU, receiving a degree as a Reading Specialist.
The Koester’s constant advocacy on Nathan’s behalf helped to result in agencies such as Bridges, which serves adult clients in homes/apartments throughout Missouri. Nathan was Bridges’ first client.
Carolyn retired from teaching at age 62, and soon taught herself to use computers, digital cameras in their infancy, and how to navigate Ebay. She had always loved antiques, and became very knowledgeable about antiques of all kinds. She sold on Ebay from its earliest days, and over the years, sold thousands of items all over the world. She and Frank also operated booths at flea markets all over mid-Missouri for many years.
Carolyn is survived by her husband, Frank Koester, of Gamma Road Lodge in Wellsville, daughter Laura Davis of Shirley, Arkansas, sons Bruce Koester of Fulton , Nathan Koester of Sedalia, granddaughters Michelle Bond, Nikki Koester, Anna Koester, and Erin Mize, step-grandson Shaun Tinsley, seven great grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren. She is also survived by two sisters, Rita Raney of Hallsville, TX and Margie Butcher of Biloxi, MS, and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be at 11:00 a.m., Friday, June 28th at the Church of Christ in Centralia.
Arrangements were under the direction of the Myers Funeral Home in Wellsville.
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