Ellen Frances (Etbauer) Koc 1913 – 2014
Ellen Koc died peacefully at home on January 29, 2014, in Woodland Park, Colo., where she had been living for over the past two years with her son and daughter-in-law, Ed and Cheryl Koc. She was 100 years and 7 months old.
Ellen was born in south Hand County, South Dakota, on June 29, 1913, the first of seven children born to Edmund and Elizabeth (Dye) Etbauer. She attended country school there through the eighth grade, did her first year of high school at Notre Dame Academy (a Catholic boarding school in Mitchell), then completed high school in Ree Heights. After attending a year of college in Madison, Ellen got her teaching certificate, then returned to Hand County and taught two years in the rural grade school she had attended. After another year of college in Aberdeen she taught a year each at the Werdel and Connelly schools and two years in Buffalo County. By the fall of 1938 Ellen had saved enough money to enroll in South Dakota State College in Brookings, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1940, which qualified her to teach high school. She spent the decade 1940-50 teaching in high schools in Waverly, Ravinia, Jefferson, Lemmon and Ree Heights, SD, and one year in Boardman, Oregon. She regularly taught English, typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping, and supervised library, school papers and yearbooks, declam and class plays.
On Oct. 15, 1949, Ellen married Anton (Tony) Koc, and they settled down in Miller for the next twenty years. After their three children started attending school, Ellen resumed her career, teaching in St. Lawrence, Miller and Highmore. In the 1960s she attended summer sessions at Black Hills State Teachers’ College, eventually completing a master’s degree in library science. In the summer of 1969 the family moved to Milbank, where Ellen served as the high school librarian until her retirement in 1978.
After retiring, Ellen participated in interdenominational Bible study groups, and she was especially active in the women’s quilting group at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Milbank. Their quilts were auctioned off at the bazaars, bringing in healthy sums for the benefit of the parish. Ellen always enjoyed staying in touch with a large circle of friends and extended family, and she especially loved organizing and attending family reunions.
A few months after Tony died (on Dec. 4, 1990), Ellen moved to White Bear Lake, Minn., to be near her daughter Sally and her family. For the next twenty years she lived there in a charming apartment complex for independent seniors. She became friends with many of the residents, and they enjoyed various activities and outings together. Ellen particularly loved seeing regularly the many nieces, nephews and other relatives who lived in the Twin Cities area. During these years Ellen took up genealogy and family history as a hobby, and her family is enormously grateful to her for conducting this research and for writing up the fascinating stories of the generations who came before us.
In the fall of 2011, after about a year in an assisted living facility in White Bear Lake, Ellen accepted Ed and Cheryl’s invitation to come live with them in Colorado. She loved the views of the mountains and the forests and watching deer and fox amble about the yard.
Ellen was preceded in death by her husband, Tony, and by all her siblings: Gladys DeMers, Elizabeth Hanson, John Etbauer, Marion Antonides, Loretta O’Rourke, and Laura Jankord. She is survived by her children: Sally Sailer of Vadnais Heights, Minn.; Richard Koc of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Edmund Koc of Woodland Park, Colo.; and by her grandchildren: Katrina, Matthew, and Andrew Koc, and Max Sailer.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, a funeral service was held for Ellen at Our Lady of the Woods Church in Woodland Park, Colo., where she was a parish member and regularly attended Mass these past two years. Father Timothy L. Corbley officiated. It was Ellen’s wish that her remains be cremated.
On June 21, 2014, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a service for Ellen at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Miller, with Father Chester Murtha officiating. This will be followed by the interment of Ellen’s ashes at the GAR Cemetery, after which luncheon will be served at St. Ann’s.