I wish it were a different topic. My family asked me to write it, and it was printed in its entirity in the Topeka-Capitol Journal:
Naomi Kopanger High passed away at McCrite Plaza Retirement Community on July 2, 2010, surrounded by family.
She was born July 12, 1914 in Bloomfield Township, Traill County, North Dakota in the farmhouse her Norweigan immigrant grandfather, Jens A Kopanger, homesteaded in 1871. She was the daughter of Joseph Christian Kopanger and Selma Opheim Kopanger.
Skipping several grades, she graduated from school in Hillsboro, ND in 1931 and from St. John’s Hospital Nursing School in Fargo, ND, in 1935 with her RN degree. She married William L. High in Carson City, NV, on November 23, 1937. She worked as a nurse in hospitals in Fargo, ND, and St. Paul, MN; and as a surgical nurse in Ft. Dodge, IA; Reno, NV; Las Vegas, NV; and Roseburg, OR before moving to Topeka in 1947. She worked in the VA Hospital in Topeka, KS, and worked with iron lung patients during the polio outbreak of the 1950’s. She was a nursing supervisor at Christ’s Hospital and a special nurse at Stormont Vail Hospital before retiring professionally. She remained willing to offer medical opinions for the rest of her life and taught her grandchildren how to make "hospital corners" on beds. An oft-heard quote in her later years was "I'm a tired and retired nurse."
She was a member of Quota Club International and a 60 year member of Eastern Star Loyal Chapter #176. She was also a member of Fairlawn Heights Wesleyan Church. Her true passion was ministering to the families of recovering alcoholics, a 50-year pursuit that continued even to a few weeks before her death.
She is preceded in death by her husband Bill, who died February 3, 1999; her sister Muriel Mast of Reno, NV; her sister Juletta McGuin of Reno, NV; her son-in-law, James I. Tolbert of Topeka, KS; her step-son, William Richard High of Knappa, OR; her step-son, Donald “Donnie” High of Astoria, OR; and an infant grandson, Daniel Joseph High, Jr. of Garden City, KS.
She is survived by a sister, Winifred Jane Kopanger; a son, Daniel High and his wife Deborah of Branson West, MO; two daughters, Sammy High Tolbert Peck and her husband Ed of Tecumseh, KS, and Julie High Thompson and her husband Stanley of Topeka, KS; a step-son, Kenneth High of Orem, UT and his wife Arlynn, a step-daughter-in-law Shirley Romm High of Knappa, OR; 30 grandchildren; 19 step-grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, 31 step-great-grandchildren, and countless others who benefitted from her listening ear and wise words.
Donations may be made to Heart of America Hospice or Topeka Rescue Mission.
The irony? Grandma never read any of my stories.