Susan Jane McCoy Koelliker, 75, succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease on July 9, 2019 at Meadowlark Hills in Manhattan.
Susan was born in Horton, KS, the third of four daughters of Robert and Elizabeth McCoy of Hiawatha, Kansas. She was gifted academically and intellectually. She was class valedictorian at Hiawatha High School.
Music was an important part of her life and sang in several choirs, played the piano, bells, and oboe. At Kansas State University she was a Putnam Scholar, earning degrees in microbiology and medical technology.
Susan married James Koelliker in 1967. She practiced medical technology in Ames, IA while Jim completed graduate school and their daughter, Kate, was born there. They moved to Rapid City, SD, in 1971 where Jim served his obligation as an Air Force officer and their son, Daniel Koelliker (Kathe) was born there.
They moved to Manhattan, KS, in 1973 where Jim joined the faculty at Kansas State. Susan continued to use her medical technology degree part-time while rearing their two young children. Other than a short stay in Corvallis, OR, 1976-78, she lived in Manhattan until her death.
Susan was successful in all pursuits she chose to undertake. Her ability to see the intrinsic value in each person and passion for human interaction were qualities that served her well in many diverse arenas.
With no background in business she successfully managed The Pathfinder, an outdoor equipment and bicycle store, for five years and provided her skills to manage the advertising for ten more years.
She was an avid reader and had talent for thoughtful discussions on almost any subject. She had many cherished friends and participated in book clubs for many years.
She loved Colorado vacations. First with her parents and sisters as a young girl and then she brought that tradition to her own children/grandchildren. She enjoyed the Riley/Reitz/Koelliker annual family ski trips for more than 25 years.
Her dedication to helping disadvantaged women led her to work with a small group at College Avenue United Methodist Church (CAUMC) to raise enough funds to pay the rent for the first permanent shelter for the Crisis Center, Inc. in Manhattan in 1981. Later, Susan served 12 years on the Crisis Center Advisory Board. As an active member of CAUMC she taught Sunday school and served in many leadership positions. She set a very Christ-like example for fairness, friendship, and valuing every individual.
Her passion for people led her to pursue a master’s in social work from the University of Kansas, graduating in 1988. She practiced as a licensed clinical social worker at Pawnee Mental Health until 1992 and opened her own private practice and continued until 2007 when the effects of her disease started to take its toll on her brilliant mind.
After 2007 she continued to battle her disease and was able to manage it nearly ten years with the aid of Jim and many friends and family. She spent the last three years of her life in Meadowlark Hills’ Collins House where she received outstanding care and attention.
She is survived by her husband Jim of Manhattan, her daughter Kate (Tim) Willingham of Topeka, and her son Dan (Kathe) Koelliker of Eagle, CO. She also leaves behind three sisters, Mary Beth (Jim) Schroff, Topeka; Nancy (Eugene) Swearingen, Hiawatha; and Shirley (Rick) Snavely, Belton, MO and her grandchildren Mia, Zach, and Dylan Willingham, and Jesse and Cody Koelliker.
Susan’s body was cremated, and her life will be celebrated at College Avenue United Methodist Church in Manhattan on Tuesday, July 30th, at 11:00. Susan was a conscious spender and giver to others. She requested no flowers for her celebration of her life. She felt the best way to remember her life is by caring for people, especially those less fortunate or disadvantaged.
Suggested gifts in her honor would be to the Crisis Center, Inc., Alzheimer’s Association, Meadowlark Hills Foundation, or CAUMC.