Kathleen Sue Oelke (July 20, 1937 – May 22, 2018)
Kathleen Sue Oelke died suddenly, unexpectedly on Tuesday, 22 May, of a brain aneurysm in Glenwood Springs. She was born in 1937 to Kathleen and Lieutenant Harold C. Brookhart, Fort Francis E Warren, WY. She was valedictorian of her class at Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, and was awarded a scholarship to Carleton College in Minnesota.
After marrying Karl on graduation day at West Point in June 1958, she managed a household and corralled two rambunctious boys born 14 months apart during her husband’s intermittent absences during his 14 years of active duty Army service. When the boys were in college, she served as Assistant Registrar at Princeton Theological Seminary for 10 years, touching the lives of many foreign students for whom she was an advocate with Seminary and Immigration officials. As a team leader and Co-Chair of the New Jersey branch of National Marriage Encounter, she ministered to untold numbers of couples as well as the State leadership team. More recently, she served on the Advocate Safe House Board in Glenwood Springs and was in training as a volunteer for Hospice when she died.
She was a woman of words — a gifted writer and a voracious reader. She easily devoured entire books, making her the delight of any book club. While words captivated her mind, there was always a special place in her heart for those who serve in the military. Her father, brother, and husband graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and her grandson is currently a member of the Army’s elite Special Operations 75th Ranger Regiment. A woman of easy wit and gracious presence, she made friends quickly, spreading joy with each encounter. As one friend said, she was “one helluva friend.”
During her last three decades, Sue endured many health issues. As her life contracted, her husband’s life expanded to meet her every need. She was a woman of great faith in Christ. Ordained an Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, she served on the governing boards of two churches. Known for her stylish presence and jaunty hats, Sue was frequently called, “Lady in Red,” her favorite color.
Sue leaves behind Karl, husband of 60 years, two sons, Karl III and Scott, a beloved grandson, Sam, and his wife Carlie, countless friends, and her greatest four-legged fan, Pepper.
A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Glenwood Springs at 1:30 PM, Wednesday, 30 May. She would be delighted by contributions in her name to Advocate Safe House.