Valerie Ann Koehler was born in May 1969 in Salt Lake City, Utah and passed away on September 16, 2020 in Hansville, Washington after a valiant battle with cancer. Let it be said that Val died with her running shoes on!
Val grew up in Wenatchee, Washington playing softball on the Pizza Inn Team as a youth and once, while running for third base, broke her leg in three places and still won the MVP Award for not missing a single game.
Val loved competitive sports but only competed against herself; always trying to improve her time or experience. She was a competitive swimmer, ran countless marathons including the Dublin Marathon in Ireland to raise funds to fight Leukemia, challenged herself with triathlons and was always the biggest cheerleader for everyone else participating.
A graduate of Wenatchee High School class of 1987, she worked as an aid in physical therapy at Central Washington Hospital on holidays and school vacations. After graduating from Eastern Washington University, Val joined the Peace Corps, became fluent in Swahili. She spent two years teaching biology in Tanzania, East Africa, where she traveled and met many wonderful people and gained broad experience and perspective.
Her next adventure was to attend Seattle University where she graduated with a Master’s in Education. She became a Stream Team Specialist for King County, later for Kitsap County and most recently worked as an environmental scientist for the Department of Defense.
Tenacious and passionate, Val gave all to everything she did. She was authentic and present in every endeavor.
Her greatest source of pride was her two amazing sons. They have been the joy of her life and have been the inspiration for many hikes, camping trips, trips to Washington D.C. and Hawaii. As well as nearby beaches or simply kicking back in the backyard roasting hot dogs and eating s’mores.
Survivors include her sons, Niko Oleyar and Benji Oleyar of Poulsbo Washington; her sister Cindy Koehler (Roger Ray) of Eugene Oregon; and her parents, Don and Pat Koehler of Wenatchee Washington. Her beloved life partner, Eric Thanem of Poulsbo, was a heroic companion. He walked with her every step on the path of cancer care while also being a strong source of support, comfort and stability for Val and her sons. She was surrounded by her thoughtful, compassionate friends, neighbors and extended Koehler family.
Donations to any charity that assists women and children or the environment will help her intentions continue.
May Val rest in eternal peace.