To those who were fortunate enough to know and love her, Helen Koch was an angel on earth, and despite her family’s immense sadness, she proudly gained her wings in heaven on June 14th, 2018. This is the story of Helen’s life.
In Bakersfield, California, on January 30th, 1944, the world was given Helen Loretta Miller, a sparkling ray of sunshine who would brighten the lives of everyone she met for the next 74 years. Helen’s parents, Arthur and Grace Miller, were overjoyed with her arrival and she was the light of their lives. Helen spent her formative years in Oxford, Nebraska where she was a lifeguard and homecoming queen at Oxford High School.
Helen married Jerry White and they were blessed with two children. Though their marital union dissolved, the two maintained a great respect for each other and after their grandchildren were born they often came together in friendship to celebrate family events.
In 1976, Helen married the love of her life, Marvin Koch in a quintessential 70s ceremony. The bride wore a groovy yellow dress while the groom sported a far-out powder blue tuxedo. Marvin and Helen were the definition of a perfect couple, and were blessed to live, laugh, and love together for almost 42 years. Throughout Helen’s many health issues, Marvin was always by her side and was her faithful caregiver until the very end. Both were immensely proud that in all those years, they never had a true argument; only small differences of opinions.
Helen worked as a nurses’ aide at Cozad Community Hospital until her multiple sclerosis progressed to the point she was unable to continue working. Despite being saddened to leave a job and coworkers she loved, Helen’s optimism took over and she adjusted to her “new normal,” a phrase she would use to positively adjust to every negative life change that came her way.
Family was at the center of Helen’s life, and many years were spent talking, laughing, and making memories. Even in her final days, Helen was the life of the party, and her family is so grateful they were able to joke, laugh, and reminisce with her a few more times.
One of Helen’s favorite hobbies was scrapbooking, and she would often bring out her scrapbooks to show people who visited her the latest pages of memories she created. Helen also loved growing peace roses, cheering on the Husker football and volleyball teams, and watching Dancing with the Stars.
Helen inspired everyone she met with her kindness, optimism, courage, and strength. She faced many health challenges in her life, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, Sjögren’s disease, and two retinal detachments and subsequent surgeries. Through every hardship, Helen always had a sparkle in her eyes, a smile on her face, and positivity radiating through her. Even in death, her kindness and desire to help others continued as one of her final wishes was that medical students and researchers be able to use her to learn and understand more about these diseases. After that knowledge is gained, her remains will be cremated and laid to rest at the Cozad Cemetery.
Those who welcomed Helen to heaven include her parents, Arthur and Grace Miller, and many pets who met her at the Rainbow Bridge.
Those who are waiting here to see her later include her husband, Marvin Koch of Cozad; children, Jeff (Lisa) White of Ridgecrest, CA, and Laurie (Ricky) Morse of Goehner, NE, Cory (Annette) Koch of Monroe, WA, Linda Strong (Jeff) of Olympia, WA, and Gregory (Deb) Koch of Wichita, KS; grandchildren Megan Otillio of Ridgecrest, CA, Autumn (Ian) Seiter of Brooklyn, NY, Nicholette White of Ridgecrest, CA, Wyatt (Christine) Morse of Fremont, NE, Brittany Morse of Austin, TX, and Tosha, Johnathon, and Jordan Strong of WA; great-grandchildren Ellie Poore and Siona Otillio of Ridgecrest, CA; and many other relatives and friends.
For many years, Helen’s wishes were that when her time came, people would not gather to remember her in sadness, but celebrate life instead. In her final days, she expressed that she wanted people to honor her by living their lives the way she did hers - by facing each day with “a positive attitude and a smile.”
In that spirit, no services or visitation will be held. Instead, Helen and her family hope that those wishing to celebrate her life do so by showing extra kindness and empathy towards others, spending time with people (and animals) they love, and facing every moment with optimism, gratitude, and joy.
If you would like to contribute to a memorial in Helen’s honor, please make a contribution to a cause or organization about which you are passionate. Online condolences may be shared at berrymanfuneralhome.com. Berryman Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements