Mildred LaVern (Brunson) Koehler was born to Marcus Daniel and Nora Ellen
Brunson on March 6, 1933 in Blue, Oklahoma. She passed away on April 27,
2023. Always one to do things her own way she attended her celebration of life on
March 4, 2023 with family and friends attending her 90 th birthday party and had
requested that there be no funeral or memorial service.
She was the youngest of seven children born in a span of ten years. Asked once
about where her name came from, she replied “As the youngest of seven Mom was
out of names. When I was born there were two midwives and one had a daughter
named Mildred the other had a daughter named LaVern.” She was known to her
family as Vern.
The family moved several times and were near Wright City, Oklahoma when she
began school. Moving again in 1947 to Kilgore, Texas. Early life on the farm was
tough but through the depression they always had food on the table.
In late May 1950 LaVern with her parents loaded the car and headed to her older
brother, Bob’s college graduation. Early in the trip two hitchhiking Air Force
Airmen were spotted. Stopping to pick them up John Koehler got into the back
seat with LaVern and they hit it off. John gave her a card that read “I’d like to
make a date with you. If the answer is YES just keep this card and if the answer is
NO, just hand it back.” She still has that card. John visited on weekends and on
July 5, 1950 he proposed. In September he was transferred to Denver. LaVern
graduated from Kilgore High school May 31, 1951, took a train to Denver,
Colorado and married John on June 8, 1951. The ceremony was very small with
only the two that stood up with them and an altar boy sitting at the back of the
room. John Jr joined the family, born in Denver.
John Sr. left the Air Force in 1953 and they moved to Longview, WA to be closer to
her family. The family increased again with the birth of daughter Margie Ruth.
Saving the best for last, Roslyn DaNell was born a couple of years later.
LaVern was involved in her children’s activities, being president of the Wallace
Grade school PTA, Assistant Girl Scout Leader and Rainbow Mother Advisor. She
also was Worthy Matron of Maple Chapter OES and a Life Member. On her 40 th
birthday she had 40 Rainbow girl members in attendance at a regular meeting.
She worked in banking for more than 20 years. When they retired in 1996, they
bought a motor home and spent the next twelve years traveling around the country
and they were proud to say that they visited all 50 states.
When their 50 th anniversary drew near her mother told LaVern that she should
have the kids start planning their party. To which she replied “My kids probably
won’t know where I am on my 50 th ”. When LaVern told her daughter this, the
response was that the “kids” had discussed it and along with spouses the six of us
wanted to take them for a Caribbean cruise. It was a fun time for all of us. In 2007
they gave up the motorhome and settled down again in the Longview area. When
it came time for their 60 th anniversary LaVern and John decided it would be a good
time to have a recommitment ceremony. LaVern called it her wedding and it was
complete with wedding gown and tuxedo. It was another fun celebration for all.
A few years later, 2014, John passed away from cancer and LaVern was on her own
in an assisted living facility. The caregivers were excellent and much appreciated.
She had a profound influence on the many young ladies that called her “Mom”
and will long be remembered. We miss you, Mama. Rest in peace.