Fern Carol McInnis (August 5, 1922 – July 10, 2016)
A long life well lived. A life of faith; A life of family; A life of accomplishment.
Born of a Colorado pioneer family, Fern Carol Krier found herself among five daughters and one son (passed shortly after birth), the children of Paul and Lucile
Krier in Walsenburg, Colorado. The family was large and extended and with family at the core. Family functions were a regular course of business. The decades ahead would see the family expand much larger but remaining always close.
Mom was the second of the girls with sister Jewel, the oldest, then Mom, Shirley, Pauline, and Phyllis. Their parents insisted on a formal upbringing with focus on study and hard work, but there was always time for “kids to be kids” and of course, lots of laughter and “days in the sun”. Faith played a significant part in their upbringing, as did music, art, and of course instilled early on, the privilege of being an American.
Mom’s days as a child were blessed. The days of youth were filled with the warm love of her parents and many wonderful times with her sisters, whom she adored. Music held a soothing presence in their home and all of the girls embraced their natural talents and later wove music into their own homes. Mom played piccolo, flute, and piano of which she gave lessons into her early 80’s. Mom developed a strong love for the outdoors and throughout her life enjoyed fishing, shooting, landscape painting, golf, biking, nature walking with the rosary, the beauty of wildlife, collecting rocks and flowers, and of course family outings. She was an athlete and a real tomboy, with insatiable curiosity. Her ongoing sense of adventure fostered the one-of-a-kind character she became.
Walsenburg had a strong mining history. Mom formed a lifelong deep respect for the sacrifice and life of the miners and their families. Throughout her life she had a soft spot for people who were in a tough position and always lent a hand.
Mom’s folks insisted that each of the girls pursue higher education and Mom joined her older sister at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she established life-long friendships in the Tri-Delta sorority, and in her adult years, PEO. She earned her degree in Chemistry and Home Economics, but never considered that the highlight of college years. That was reserved for meeting a fine gentleman by the name of Kohler McInnis (“Mac”), who became her husband of 67 years! The young couple danced, studied, and laughed together as they fell deeply in love with high aspirations for the future. In their final days together, they continued to hold hands, with profound respect and never-ending love that would remain steadfast until they were united again.
Not in the plans were the drums of War and after Pearl Harbor, Mom and Dad answered the call. Mom went to work as a chemist in food production for the
government and Dad was sent to Guam where he would join his fellow soldiers in every-other-day bombing missions over Japan. As they would say, the “tour of duty” was until the War was over. Their deep love was exhibited over the next several years with the exchange of caring love letters, which many years later were the subject of a Valentine’s Day feature story in the Daily Sentinel. Songs like “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places”, and “Kiss me once, kiss me twice” kept their hearts warm.
Not long after victory in the War, Dad headed back to Colorado and swept Mom off to the altar for a marriage defined by family, love, respect, and friendship. After a beautiful wedding, they returned to school to finish their education. With both families of pioneer stock, the two were destined to country life and beckoned to Glenwood Springs, where the house they built on the mountain, flourished into the McInnis “home” of 55 years.
Dad started their business in hardware and later engaged in many investments, while Mom assumed the role of homemaker and most importantly, “Mom”. The arrival of six children; first three boys, Michael, Scott, and Kohler, followed by three girls, Kathy, Patty, and Care’, made for a thriving and lively household! There would be 37 years of children in the home before they empty-nested with the graduation of Care’ from high school. Then came 19 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren and proudly, Mom and Dad became “Mama Kay” and “Papa Ko”.
Mom and Dad were best friends and did practically everything together from raising the kids to golf, church, travel, bike rides, camping and the list goes on! The years together were of great joy and boredom never entered the picture. Both had terrific senses of humor and incorporated “laughter is the best medicine” into our upbringing, a real gift resulting in healthy and close family relationships to this day.
Family, education, respect, faith, duty, and honor to our country were standards Mom and Dad instilled, but of greatest influence, compassion and love. Mama Kay was a soft spoken, low key, and flexible person, but behind that she was full of fun, mischievousness, and that little something always up her sleeve. Oh, how we loved that!
Mama Kay’s years of motherhood were many and blessed we as the children were. Her mind was always spinning with fun, crazy projects, filling our formidable days with every imaginable activity and earning her the position of the “go-to” person for “unusual” solutions and repairs. Her creative side was an outstanding and memorable feature of her character and naturally fueled her favorite hobby – art. She was a charter member of the Glenwood Springs Art Guild. With exceptionally skilled hands, a large dose of patience, and an encouraging demeanor, she led us kids in exploring painting, wood-working, sculpting, sewing, drawing, and building. Equally important was outside play, and Mama Kay always carved out time to hike up the mountain, shoot the BB gun, play ball, or fish on the river. Quite versatile, Mom was as beautiful in her fishing waders and on her bicycle, as she was in a dress and heels for an evening out on the town! She enjoyed taking care of, and harvesting our many fruit trees and generously shared the abundant yield. As you can imagine with a family of eight, she spent an enormous amount of time in the kitchen and made homemade bread almost daily. A special memory is her greeting us every day after school with a warm hug and a slice of bread, straight from the oven and slathered with butter. She found great joy in handing out fresh loaves and anyone who knew her, would tell you that she flat-out made the best bread in the entire world! Once she loaned her recipe to a nephew (Greg, who had never made bread before) and by golly, he got a ribbon at the State Fair.
Mom and Dad demanded character from their children; they believed it counted. Respect, hard work, faith, honesty, pride, leadership – it all mattered and they led by fine example. Mama Kay was very active in the Catholic Church and she and Dad helped purchase land to build the St. Stephens Catholic School. She belonged to the Altar Rosary and rarely was she without a rosary herself. Mama Kay was well versed on many topics and kept the family up to date on current events from her nightly reading of the Wall Street Journal. Our Mama Kay was an extraordinary person who showed us how to care, how to love, how to help, but most of all how to live. She also showed us how to die, as Mama Kay was pleasant and grateful to the very end. What more could you ask. Mom was also blessed to have wonderful care from HopeWest and Mom’s caregivers.
Fern Carol McInnis lost her husband and our father (Kohler) four years ago, but leaves their six children, Michael (Melissa) McInnis, Scott (Lori) McInnis, Kohler (Kathleen) McInnis, Kathy (Ed) Krey, Patty (Bob) McInnis-Cole, and Care’ McInnis; grandchildren, Christopher, Jenny, Angie, Daxon, Tessa, Andrea, Koby, Kohler III, Kiernan, Sam, Alix, Silka, Bridger, Hayden, Briez, Gracie, Annika, Ellie, and Lucy; great-grandchildren, Tre’, Dax, Drew, Rye, Charlie, Winn, Aspen, Avery, Rollie, and Coltin. She is also survived by her sweet sister, Phyllis (Hal) Donnelly and family and the many members of the Geiger, Small, Santi, and Emmett McInnis families.
She is predeceased by her loving husband of 67 years, Kohler; members of the McInnis Family; and by her wonderful sisters, Jewel (John) Geiger, Shirley (John) Small, Pauline (Don) Santi, and members of their precious families.
And Mama Kay – thank you for being the best mom ever. As you gently whispered in our ears so many many times, “May the Lord watch between Thee and Me, while we are absent one from the other”.
Memorial service will be held Saturday August 6. 2016, at 1:00 p.m. at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary, 2515 Patterson Road, Grand Junction, Colorado. Memorial contributions can be made in Fern’s name to HopeWest Hospice, 3090B North 12th Street, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506.
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