By Mary Fox
Christmas 2013 wasn’t the same for the family of Jeanette Kohler. Jeanette died peacefully in her sleep on Christmas morning. She was laid to rest Jan. 6, 2014, in Willow Dale Cemetery in Bradford, Pa., with a graveside service offered by Pastor Tom Pierotti of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Bradford.
Jeanette was a lifelong member of Emanuel Lutheran Church, which she attended faithfully until she could no longer drive.
Jeanette left a legacy of an enthusiastic love of life, which she approached with a positive attitude. Her cheery outlook and eternal optimism saw her through 96 years. Her friends and family are quick to say, however, that her opinions could be very assertive.
Jeanette loved her Swedish background and left her family with memories of Christmases past of traditional Swedish decorations and memorable meals served in the cozy atmosphere of her little house on Snow Brook Road in Great Valley where she and her husband, Alan, lived after his retirement from Zippo in Bradford, Pa.
Her baking extended to her neighbors who looked forward to her tin of Swedish Christmas cookies left on their doorstep.
In 1935, she married Alan, who passed away in 1988. Jeanette was literally the woman behind the successful man, nurturing his love of skiing and his many involvements in promoting ski organizations all over western New York.
“She was exactly the kind of wife I want to be,” said granddaughter Julie Nuss.
Alan and Jeanette were original members, in 1938, of the Ellicottville Ski Club. The old timers remember how Jeanette’s Swedish dishes were always a welcome treat at potluck lunches.
“It has been fun watching the growth of skiing since the early days when Al and Jeanette, Lillian and Dick Congdon, and Doc and I helped getting Holiday Valley started,” said Edna Northrup.
Jeanette is survived by a daughter, Donna Sinibaldi, of Sanford, Fla.; daughter-in-law, Patty Wolf, of Ellicottville; and grandchildren Laura and Kate Kohler, Julie Nuss, Larry Sinibaldi and Beth Coble. She was predeceased by daughter Lavonne Yetman, son Karl Kohler, and granddaughter Lynn Sinibaldi.
Jeanette liked a day out with her friends for a good chat, with a Manhattan and a pocketful of pennies for poker.
“I’ll never forget her teaching me to play poker and to enjoy the simple things in life and to be happy,” said granddaughter, Laura.
Nature’s cycle of life was a source of joy for Jeanette. She faithfully watched the animals that trekked around her house and swam in her pond, and she enjoyed telling tales of their adventures. Faithfully, each spring, she anticipated the return of the bluebirds to their many houses in her backyard and anxiously watched for their young to be born.
After she retired, Jeanette’s neighbor, Cathy Lacy, visited her almost every day doing little things for her and taking her wherever she needed to go.
“I was the one benefiting from the visits. She told good stories about times growing up. She was like my mother and I loved her very much. She did more for me with her love than I could ever have done for her,” said Cathy.
Jeanette’s daughter-in-law Patty Kohler said, “I was blessed to have her in my life for 41 years.”
All who had Jeanette in their lives eagerly agree with her.