Carolyn Joy Kirchner, age 56, peacefully passed away at her home in Missoula, Montana in the loving arms of family and friends on Friday, September 9th, 2011, ending a long journey with cancer.
Carolyn was born November 8, 1954, in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, the eldest child of John Bill Kirchner and Ruth Ann (Sills) Kirchner. As an infant she and her mother traveled to Portsmouth, Virginia, to be with her father who was in the Navy.
Once discharged, the family returned to Donnellson, Iowa where she was raised. Carolyn attended local Iowa schools, graduating from Fort Madison High School in 1972. She resided in the Fort Madison/Burlington, Iowa area, where she worked for Shaeffer Pen Company in Fort Madison, then managed an Orange Julius franchise in Burlington. After it closed she was partners in a local business and worked as a waitress at the Coach House Restaurant in Burlington. In 1991 she moved to Helena, Montana. She graduated from the University of Montana – Helena College of Technology, with an associate of applied science in accounting technology degree on December 21, 1993. Following graduation she moved to Newark, California, where she was employed as the office manager for Delta Machine Systems Inc. in Fremont, California. In May 2000 she moved to Missoula, Montana, and in 2002 relocated to a small acreage northeast of Ronan. In 2008 Carolyn started her own business, Spirit of the Crone Artworks, specializing in jewelry and home décor fabrication. Due to the debilitating effects of her illness, Carolyn was no longer able to work and discontinued her business in 2009. She returned to Missoula, Montana in April 2011.
Carolyn enjoyed gardening, art, reading, the theatre, baseball, travel, gatherings with friends and family and her dog, Miss Cinnamon. Carolyn was a quiet, kind and gentle person who enjoyed life. Despite the horrendous pain she endured, she never complained or felt sorry for herself. If asked, she was always “fine” putting on the mask of wellness so as not to worry family and friends. She was a remarkable woman of silent courage, perseverance, strength, spirituality, compassion and dignity. She is admired for the way she faced her cancer and the many difficult challenges it presented. She never thought of herself as being in the limelight but preferred the shadows. Carolyn received the admiration of those whose lives she impacted. Her laugh was contagious, her smile heartwarming. There are few on this earth who offer their hearts unconditionally, with genuine love and friendship, expecting nothing in return. Carolyn was one of those few. Even in death she brought quiet, dignity, calm and peace.
Carolyn is survived by her life partner of 20 years, Glennette Crawford; her mother, Ruth Ann (Sills) Kirchner of Fort Madison; two sisters, Renita (Dana) Heagy of Fort Madison and Lori (Harlan) Pundt of Donnellson; one brother, Jerry Kirchner of Durham, North Carolina; three nephews, Joshua Pundt and fiancé Heather Dresden of Coralville, Iowa, Jeremy (Beth) Pundt and Nicholas Pundt of Donnellson; one niece, Georgina Gordon of Fort Madison, and step-mother Maggie Kirchner of Sun Lakes, Arizona. She is also survived by her aunts Betty (Sills) Stockton of Blue Springs, Missouri, Leona (Walter) Weber “Aunt Sis” of Fort Madison and Vera (Bob) Baxter of Indiana and one uncle, Raymond (Darlene) Sills of Jacksonville, Illinois. Other survivors include Kathy (Bruce) Johnson of Missoula, Montana, Joyce (Bryan) Hostetler of Glendive, Gloria (Jason) Vaughn of Dallas, Georgia and Gene Crawford of Lambert, Carolyn will be greatly missed by all of her extended family and friends.
Carolyn was preceded in death by her father, John Bill Kirchner; paternal grandparents, Henry and Virgie (Derr) Kirchner, and maternal grandparents Paul and Leona (Burrows) Sills. She was also preceded in death by Glenette’s mother and nephew, Katherine Crawford and Thomas Hostetler.
Friends may call and meet with the family beginning at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at the Community of Christ Church in Fort Madison, Iowa (30th & Avenue L) where a memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. with Raymond Sills officiating. Burial will be in the Montrose Cemetery at Montrose, Iowa. A memorial has been established in her memory. Schmitz-Lynk Funeral Home of Donnellson is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.schmitzlynkfuneralhome.com. Memorials can be sent to Schmitz-Lynk Funeral Home at P.O. Box 56, Donnellson, Iowa 52625.