+ Miriam Elizabeth Stuenkel Hoelter +
January 28, 1947 – December 28, 2013
Miriam Elizabeth Stuenkel Hoelter was born January 28, 1947 in Monett, MO, to Rev. Walter W. and Helen Reith Stuenkel and baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ on February 9, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Freistatt, MO. She was confirmed in her faith at Bethany Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI in 1961. She attended Milwaukee Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, WI and attended Concordia College in Milwaukee (where her father was the president) for two years. She graduated from Concordia College, River Forest, IL with a teaching degree and taught for a year at Our Savior Lutheran School in Flint, MI. When the family moved to Lawrence, KS, Miriam opened her home to be a daycare provider and, after her own children were in school, did long-term substitute teaching in the Lawrence public schools. In 1988, earned a MS in Counseling at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Miriam served for two years as a school counselor in Lawrence and, when the family moved to Portland, OR, in 1990, for a year at Candy Lane Elementary in the Oregon City School District. She served 18 years as an elementary school counselor at East Gresham and Hall Elementary Schools. In the Gresham-Barlow School District Miriam served as co-facilitator of K-8 counselors and sat for four years on the district’s Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Cohort Planning Team, eventually co-presenting at state conferences on the work of this team. An active participant in the Oregon School Counselors Association, she was its president (2005-2006) and was named Elementary School Counselor of the Year for Oregon in 2003. Miriam was a trained Love and Logic Parenting presenter and conducted classes for Trinity and St. Michael’s Lutheran staff and parents and at Northwest District Lutheran Teachers’ Conferences. Miriam retired from education in 2009. She has also served as an adjunct professor on topics about school counseling at Concordia University, Portland, OR, and Lewis and Clark College, Lake Oswego, OR. For the last two years, she served as a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children, in Multnomah County.
Miriam served her Lord and the Church in many ways. At Trinity Lutheran Church, where her husband Mark was pastor, she took turns as Trinity Adult Choir Director, Sunday School teacher, member and chair of Committees on Fellowship and Parish Education, sang in the choir, was active in the Dorcas Society and participated in quilting and many other service opportunities. In the Northwest District, she was appointed to the Northwest District Seminar Interview Committee in 1995 and later became its chair, serving yet through 2013. In the national church body, she became the first woman elected to serve on the Board of Regents of a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Seminary, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN, from 2004 to 2010. Most recently she was on the Portland Lutheran Association for Christian Education Board, supporting Portland Lutheran School.
Miriam and Mark Hoelter married on April 12, 1971 at Hope Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI and lived in Flint, MI; Hepler, KS; Lawrence, KS; and Portland, OR. Her life journey included surgery for and a diagnosis of ovarian cancer on February 28, 2001. After five years of remission, chemo treatment resumed in 2006, ultimately including whole brain radiation in May of 2012. She determined that cancer would not define her life and spoke often to groups and nursing classes about living with cancer, participated in cancer awareness and education groups, and wrote articles. She and Mark dedicated themselves to travel, visiting France and Denmark, Eastern Europe, England, the Holy Land, Hawaii, Alaska, and several Northwest venues in the ensuing years. Of course, she loved nothing better than to be with people: especially her grandchildren, but also her sons and daughters-in-law, extended family, friends and colleagues in work and church. In the summer of 2013 treatments became less effective and she succumbed to the disease at home surrounded by her family on December 28, at the age of 66 years and 11 months. But she had outlived her expected life span with great energy, grace and enthusiasm. Miriam is survived by her husband, Pastor Mark Hoelter, sons Peter (Jenny); Christopher (Allison), Micah and Lucas, grandchildren Owen, Sara, Andrew, Jackson, and Carson, and her brothers and sisters Rev. Robert (Julie) Stuenkel, Dorothy (Rev. Paul) Marschke, Rev. Roger (Margaret) Stuenkel, Grace (John) Bruss, and Rhoda (Paul) Hayes, and several nieces and nephews.
On December 17, 2005, Miriam gave the address at the winter commencement of Concordia University, Mequon, WI. In her remarks, she noted that among the Masai tribe of Africa, famed as fearsome warriors, the traditional greeting is: “And how are the children?” The priority for this society was the well being of their children, and if the children were well, then the powerless were protected and the people were well also. (And after her speech, a Masai man who was present for the commencement told her, “Yes, that is what we ask.”) Above all things, we would affirm, Miriam cared about the children, that they were well and loved and protected. We give thanks to God for this gift of Miriam and her love for the children—and for all God’s people—in our life.