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Ella Kolbe Obituary

Ella Amanda Kolbe passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve morning of the year 2020.


She was born March 14, 1927, in the small farming community of Hancock on the Upper Peninsula of


Michigan to Finnish Immigrants Laina Rusi and Alex Harju. She had three siblings, brother Jerry and sisters Louella and Florence. She spent most of her formative years on a farm in Northern Wisconsin. There she learned the value of hard work and perseverance. She also developed a love for animals and other living things and the importance of clean air and water. She graduated from Wisconsin State University-Superior in 1949 and moved to New York City to live with her sister and modeled for company advertisements.

She returned to Superior and married William Deforest Kolbe in 1950. They moved to Highland Park, Illinois, where they had four children, Del, Jill, Val, and Ken, and began their careers in the teaching profession. After a two-year stint in Phoenix to help Bill with the devastating effects of malaria he contracted in the South Pacific during WWII, they received a call from President Flowers of Southwest Texas State University to join the faculty and begin a watercolor program in the Art Department. Ella obtained her masters degree in education and taught in San Marcos for several years before taking a position in Seguin, Tx, heading up the "gifted student" program.


Full of life and involved in many important causes, Ella gave her time and financial resources to retired teachers, PAWS animal rescue, food banks, Red Hat Ladies, and many other renowned charities. She loved life, her husband, children, and extended family. Ella's smile could light up a room, and her sense of humor was keen, witty, and tasteful. She had countless numbers of friends with whom she enjoyed socializing. If there was someone in need of anything, Ella was always first to step up and aid in any way she could. She enjoyed a long teaching career receiving numerous awards through the years for excellence in the field. She established herself as a mentor for students wanting to start a career in education.


In 2018 Ella, joined by daughter Jill, participated in a select Honor Flight, to Washington D.C., of Hays County Veterans from WWII, Korea, and the Vietnam War. Dedicated to her late husband


William Kolbe's memory, a WWII Veteran, she often said that it was the most fulfilling and emotional experience of her life and an event that would leave an indelible mark on her being. Her love of life and enduring spirit will be with us for years. Her uplifting memory will provide inspiration and love to all those blessed with her friendship. While she will be missed, her legacy will remain and only grow stronger throughout the years.

In Gods loving hands, Ella joins deceased family members: husband William Kolbe, son Ken Kolbe, brother Jerry Harlow, sister Lou Rhoades, brothers-in-law Richard Kolbe, Jack Kolbe, and Siebert Cox, sisters-in-law Katherine Cox, Marianne Kolbe, and Marie Kolbe.


Survived by her children: Del Kolbe (Austin, TX), Jill Bamer/Mike (Cedar Park, TX), Val Graves/Greg (Minneapolis, MN).

Granddaughters: Jacquelyn Pototsky (Alexandria, VA), Amanda Ham (Leander, TX), Lauren Graves (Minneapolis, MN).

Grandsons: Nick Kolbe (San Diego, CA), Will Graves (Minneapolis, MN), Zackary Bamer (Cedar Park, TX). Great-grandchildren: Kal Pototsky (Alexandria, VA), Izayah Kolbe and Averi Ham (Leander, TX), and her sister Florence (Duluth, MN).

Memorial Services are pending at a later date in San Marcos when pandemic restrictions lift. We welcome everyone that was touched by Ella.

In place of flowers, a contribution to the Kolbe Family Foundation, supporting many of the causes that Ella embraced, is welcome.


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