Farm Progress

Commentary: Loretta Koester’s friends and family honored her by adorning church pews with her quilts.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

July 29, 2017

3 Min Read
FITTING TRIBUTE: Friends and family of Loretta Koester thought the best way to honor her was to adorn the pews of the church where her funeral was held with her quilts.

People often approach me with story ideas. When Dale Koester suggested a story idea at a stop on the Indiana Farm Management Tour this summer, I was interested in learning more. Koester and his family operate a dairy in Posey County. Maybe he had an idea for a dairy story. His daughter, Lindsey, was recognized as a section Star in Agriscience at the Indiana FFA Convention. Maybe he wanted to tell me about his daughter’s accomplishments.

No, instead he wondered if I could help him honor someone very special to him — his mother. It’s not every day that a person who passes on is honored in the way friends and family honored Loretta Koester, just one week before this year’s farm tour. They decorated the pews of the church with quilts she made by hand. The entire church was filled with her handmade quilts.

Who she was
According to Dale, “Loretta Rexing Koester was never one to be in the limelight, nor would she want to be, but she certainly had a role in Indiana agriculture.”

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MORE THAN A MOM: Dale Koester loved his mom, Loretta Koester, but he also knew she was a very special person. Her legacy lives on not only through her quilts, but also through the work she did.

Raised on a farm in Vanderburgh County, she was the fifth of 10 children. She married her husband, Ralph, and moved to Posey County in 1951. Loretta had an eighth-grade education. The pair started farming with four heifers received from her dad and brothers as a wedding gift. They raised 10 children, including Dale. The farm became a Hoosier Homestead farm in 1987. Four sons still maintain crops and operate a modern dairy today.

Three of her children graduated from Purdue University. Nine grandchildren graduated from Purdue, with five more grandchildren currently at Purdue.

Legacy left behind
Loretta’s quilts are beautiful, but they aren’t her true legacy. Father Ed Schnur made that clear during her funeral. He shared his sermon notes. Here is a portion that reveals Loretta’s true legacy: a challenge to each of us.

“This quilt placed on her casket at the beginning of our celebration is a reminder of her new life in Christ at her baptism,” Schnur said. “This was the last quilt Loretta was working on before she died. The quilt is not complete. There is a small section of the quilt which is not hemmed. It is not finished.

“This is our challenge left for us today by Loretta. She doesn’t want us to finish hemming the quilt. She wants us to continue building the kingdom that she was doing for her 88 years of life here on earth.

“She challenges us to sow the seeds of faith and love and kindness as she did each day of her life. She challenges us to love and serve the Lord through the work of our hands. She challenges us to reach out our hands to the poor and extend our arms to the needy.

“Loretta is challenging us to live a life like hers — grounded in love and truth and the goodness of God.

“May we always remember her unfinished quilt, which was left with us as a reminder of what we are called to be and how we are called to live.”

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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