Dorthy Ione Knouse Koepke, accomplished writer, speaker, and beloved mother of 10, joyfully went to be with her Lord Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Norfolk. She was 90 years old.
Dorthy was born in Kingsbury County near Iroquois, SD Jan. 24, 1922, the third of nine children to Fred and Myrtle Bond Knouse. She was baptized as a young adult at Methodist Episcopal Church in Cavour, SD.
Dorthy graduated from Cavour High School as valedictorian at age 20, having had to delay her studies for three years to help care for her younger siblings during the Great Depression in the 1930s. That summer, Dorthy traveled to Hoskins, Nebr. to visit relatives and, while delivering lunch to farmers working in a hayfield, met the love of her life, Herman Koepke.
She returned to South Dakota for one year to study journalism at Huron College and work as a feature writer before moving to Hoskins to marry Herman June 27, 1943. For the next 40 years, the couple raised 10 children and farmed on 560 acres northwest of Hoskins.
Dorthy and her family attended Zion Lutheran Church near Hoskins. She was active in the Ladies Aid and taught teen and adult Bible classes there for many years. She also served on the Wayne County District 55 School Board. Dorthy and Herman moved to Norfolk in 1983.
Dorthy’s three loves were the Lord, her family and her writing. She dreamed of being a writer beginning at age 12. When she was 16, her first poem was published in the Iroquois Chief newspaper. It was titled “My Big Feet” and won first prize in a local competition.
After she became a farm wife and busy mother, Dorthy continued to write both poetry and prose. Much of her writing focused on her life on the farm and her children and grandchildren. She was known to drop whatever she was doing, race back to her typewriter to write something, then return to the task at hand. When she had an idea, she had to write it down.
Dorthy attended many writing workshops and conferences across the country where she made many close friends.They included the Billy Graham School of Christian Writing, the Society of Children's Book Writers, the Nebraska Chaparral Poets and the Spindrift Poets Club. She was an active member and officer of the Spindrift Poets Club.
Dorthy won numerous honors and awards from local and national venues for her poems and short stories, including a first place in the Nebraska and National Mother’s Association short story contest. She was invited to read her poem “Resurrection” at the 1996 Famous Poets Society Convention in Anaheim, Calif. She also won many awards from the Nebraska Chaparral Poets, with the most recent being first place for her poem “Utopia for Growing Old” in August 2012.
Dorthy’s writing has been featured in the The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Guideposts, Magaz-ine of the Midlands, The Nebraska State Medical Journal, Grit, Country People and This Day magazine. She also self-published some of her poems and short stories in the books “Love Made Me Do It”, “Close to my Heart”, “Magnificent White Oak”, “When I was Young” and “Always Room for One More”.
A popular speaker, Dorthy was invited to many venues to talk about her life as a farm wife, mother and writer. Her favorite presentation was “Love Made Me Do It," in which she told about why she married a farmer, raised 10 kids and wrote when she could.
Dorthy’s greatest joy was knowing she would someday be in God’s presence, and she lived her life as an example of His love. She passionately loved and cherished her family and friends.
Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Stonacek Funeral Chapel in Norfolk, followed by burial at Zion East Lutheran Cemetery near Hoskins. Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at Stonacek Funeral Chapel in Norfolk.
Dorthy was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Myrtle Bond Knouse; husband, Herman Koepke; brothers, Melvin, Frank, Marvin and Donald Knouse; son, Gary Koepke, and an unnamed but much loved stillborn daughter.
She is survived by her children and their spouses, Judy Koepke and Jeff Schmid of St. Louis, Mo., Janis and Jon Bible of Ceresco, Jo Ann Koepke of Norfolk, Galen and Doris Koepke of Nederland, Colo., daughter-in-law, Terry Koepke of Missoula, Mont., Gene and Michelle Koepke of Minot, ND, Lonnie and Suellen Koepke of Broken Bow, Lana and Phil Johnson of Lincoln, Lynne Titte of Norfolk, and Jeff and Sharon Koepke of Lincoln; 25 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; siblings, Jane DeLong of Huron, SD, Fern Whitlow of Mitchell, SD, Clarence Knouse of Huron, SD; and Mary Meyers of Cavour, SD; and sister-in-law, Marilyn Dollenbacher of Huron, SD.
Memorial gifts may be made to the family for the Dorthy Knouse Koepke Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Published in Custer County Chief, Jan. 17, 2013