Jan Koehler

  Jan Koehler was born to Harry and Dorothy Malstrom on April 10, 1947. Her early years were spent on the family farm outside Prosser, Washington, where she love to tag along behind her big brother Harry Jr. and his friends. After the family moved into town, her interests focused on swimming and golf, as well as finding books to read that were not on her father’s approved reading list.

  After high school, Jan attended Western Washington University where she met and married her first husband, Larry Beck, and Amy was born. Accepting their differences, they soon divorced. Jan later married Silas Pera, and they moved to East St. Louis, Illinois, where Jan ran a halfway house for troubled teens. This was the start of her career path in special education. Jan and Silas moved back to Bellingham shortly before Jenny was born, and Silas was killed in a tragic logging accident months after Jenny was born. Jan met and married Jim Koehler and had son Mark. The family had many happy years together, spending time riding horses, chasing loose animals, camping, hunting and fishing.

  In 1984, Jan went back to school at WWU to get her teaching certificate. She went on to teach for many years at Secret Harbor School, a residential treatment center for adolescent boys from around the country with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities. Jan decided to take a break from the stress of special education and traveled overseas to teach computer science at the Kuwait American School. Her time in Kuwait was the perfect launching point for world travel and she had adventures ranging from riding camels among the Egyptian pyramids to an elephant safari in northern India to sipping wine in the south of France.

  With the potential of grandchildren in sight, Jan moved back to the United States and settled in Las Vegas to teach middle school special education, again specializing in children with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Upon retirement, she moved to Lynden, where Amy and Mark were living. Jenny and her family were living in Northern Ireland.

  In Lynden she fell in love with quilting and spent the majority of her time at Tangled Threads Quilt Shop, making many new and dear friends. Jan made quilts with her church for Lutheran World Relief, donated quilts for various auctions and charities and, of course, for her friends, children and grandchildren.

  In May 2018, Jan travelled to Northern Ireland to spend the summer with daughter Jenny and family. She loved her time in Ireland as it reminded her of the America she grew up in because of the sense of small-town community. She had made many friends over there and always felt part of the community. While visiting, she fell ill and was hospitalized. A type of cancer as unique as our mother took her life on July 19, 2018.

  She is survived by daughter Amy, son-in-law Scott and grandchildren Eric and Chloe Harksell; daughter Jenny, son-in-law Frank and grandchildren Jimmy and Katie McLeigh; and son Mark Koehler. Jan will be sorely missed by many friends and family near and far.

  A celebration of Jan’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, in Mountain View Christian Reformed Church, 6678 Old Guide Rd., Lynden.

 Donations made be made in Jan’s honor to Lutheran World Relief.