Joseph Alois Koerner of St. Louis collapsed at home on March 14, 2019, and died after being transported to Barnes Jewish Hospital.
He leaves his wife, Maria Allen-Koerner, together 30 years; his daughter, Vanessa Enloe and her husband Paul Enloe who are parents of his two grandchildren, Neve and Brendan Enloe all of Dallas, TX; his youngest daughter, Kendra Bockius and husband Jeff Bockius of St. Louis; Brothers Tom Koerner and Randy Koerner of Hays, KS; and many close friends.
Born on January 28, 1939 and raised in Hays, he was the son of Joseph Koerner, Sr. and Bertha (Miller) Koerner, and was the oldest of four brothers. He was preceded in death by his parents and his youngest brother, Myron “Skip” Koerner. Proud of his family heritage, he learned to speak German. He held a paper route as a youth and attended high school at St. Joseph’s Military Academy, as did his father and three brothers. He graduated in 1957 and was that year’s Battalion Commander, the highest-ranking cadet. Later employment in Hays included Central Kansas Power and Gilmore Construction.
After a year at Fort Hays State, he entered the Jesuit Seminary in Florissant in 1958 and earned his BA at St. Louis University (SLU). He taught a year at SLU High in the subject of Latin and was the director of the Glee Club and a theater play production. In 1967, post seminary days, he graduated from SLU with a master’s in philosophy. He remained a regular member of SLU St. Francis Xavier College Church and a faithful friend of his Jesuit buddies.
His early career included teaching Latin at St. Mary’s University in Leavenworth but the majority of his work focused on marketing research consulting for Maritz, as owner of The Qualis Company, and for the Salvation Army. The last several years he spent teaching Latin at Webster University and SLU, bringing his career full circle and fulfilling his life’s passion, which is teaching and a love of language and philosophy. In his words, “I’ve always had a great reverence for and interest in ancient times.”
Joe was talented musically and was known for singing and playing his guitar with friends and family, and for nursing home residents. He also performed in several community theater productions where he is most fondly remembered as “Daddy Warbucks”. A highlight was being a member of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Choir, during which time he was able to perform in Rome and Austria.
Joe was a life-long learner of the sciences, the classics, and continued to be intrigued by philosophy and theology. He had frequently contributed his thoughts and perspectives on issues in letters to the editor printed in St. Louis Post Dispatch. Having a most recognizable and happy laugh, he was well known and loved by his community and he generously gave back to society. Such an outgoing human being, he would meet and engage with all groups of people. One friend said, “If I were like Joe and was sitting in any coffee shop, I would know all of those people sitting over there!” Per his wishes, his body was donated to science.
Family was precious to Joe as he was the most caring, supportive, and proud father and grandfather “Poppa Joe”, and likewise, was their hero. His final day was spent with his love, Maria, doing the things enjoyed: coffee club, exercising, volunteering in the local food pantry, completing the NYT crossword puzzle, and reading the newspaper – most importantly, the comics (AKA the philosophy page).
His memorial service will be held at SLU St. Francis Xavier College Church on May 20th at 10 a.m.
If you care to make a memorial donation, Joe was active in the following organizations:
Microfinancing Partners in Africa
4949 Columbia Ave.
St. Louis, Mo. 63139
Trinity Episcopal Food Pantry
600 N. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, Mo. 63108