Vonnie went peacefully to be with her Lord and Savior for some much deserved rest Jan. 17, 2020, after 92½ years of tireless service to others.
She was a staunch advocate for the developmentally disabled, working to promote community-based programs and educational opportunities. Her opinion can be summarized in her own words regarding the disabled:
“What we have started is the hope and possibility that a person of lesser mental and physical ability can also be accepted for what he is — a child of God, a person of worth, dignity and respect, capable of loving and being loved, capable of contributing to our society when provided with needed training and skills.”
Vonnie was born on July 15, 1927, in Lambert, Montana, to Douglas Ann and Alvin Ullman. She moved to Fairview, Montana, to live with relatives who were instrumental in introducing her to her Lord and Savior. Later she moved to Billings to live with her mother where she graduated high school in 1944 from Billings Senior High. She then moved to Bozeman where she received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Montana State College in 1948.
She married Bill West, a vo-ag instructor in Baker, Montana, in 1950. After Bill’s accidental death, she completed her Masters of Social Work degree in 1956 from the University of Denver and moved to Somers to work for the Flathead Welfare Department. She was an active member of the Somers Saddle Club.
In the fall of 1957, she met Herb Koenig. They were married the following spring and have been inseparable for nearly 62 years. She continued counseling with Lutheran Social Services for a time. She supported and assisted Herb in making Koenig Farm a success. She was a wonderful homemaker and earned many blue ribbons for her bread at the county fair. Her cinnamon rolls were heavenly. They were committed members of Trinity Lutheran Church and were founding members of The Church at Creston, Lutheran. She spent many hours studying the Word and was always willing to share with others.
Since 1966 she has volunteered her services to the Flathead Association for Retarded Citizens, served on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Mental Retardation and served as chairwoman of the Region 5 Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. In 1973, she was instrumental in starting the first Hike-Bike. This provided funding to begin Flathead Industries. She served on the board of directors of Flathead Industries for the Handicapped for over 40 years. She had been the recipient of numerous volunteer awards and honors. She also served on the board of the Marion Finley Friendship House.
She was preceded in death by her parents, first husband Bill, and one brother Cal.
She is survived by her sister, Jan Ullman; brother, Howard Ullman; husband, Herb Koenig; children, Dan Koenig, Paul Koenig, and Janet (Rory) Schwalk; and grandchildren, Kayla Adams, Danielle and Joshua Schwalk. She is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
Vonnie and family request that any memorials be made to Flathead Industries, P.O. Box 1916, Kalispell MT 59903.
There will be a public viewing from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home. The memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at The Church at Creston, Lutheran.