Dr. Harry C. Koenig Maria C. (Kitty) Koenig

Dr. Harry C. Koenig
Maria C. (Kitty) Koenig

Dr. and Mrs. Harry C. and Maria C. (Kitty) Koenig, long-time residents of Vermillion, died at the home of their daughter, Carolyn, and son-in-law, Jim Lungren. Harry died on Dec. 29, 2010, followed by Kitty on Jan. 1, 2011.

Harry was born to Karl and Theresia (Luttig) Koenig on Jan. 22, 1917 in Cologne, Germany. He grew up in the Rhineland, attending elementary and high school in Dsseldorf and Cologne, respectively, and Aloisiuskolleg, a Jesuit preparatory school in Bad Godesburg. He left his family in Germany in 1938 for political reasons. For the next several years, he taught English to would-be refugees in Budapest and Belgrade, and finally, Istanbul. After two years of waiting for his quota number, he emigrated to the United States on one of the last ships to leave a neutral Turkey, and landed in Hoboken, NJ. He settled in Albany, NY, where he was a student and part-time language instructor at Siena College. He joined the US Army in 1941 and was posted at the Army War College in Washington, DC, where he used his knowledge of languages to translate documents. He later served as a war department employee in the U.S. Army of Occupation in Germany from 1945-47. He earned a masters degree in education at the University of Houston in 1950, followed by studies towards his doctorate at the Universidad Autnoma de Mxico in Mexico City.

Kitty was born to Pedro and Virginia (Muoz) Mosino on Aug. 29, 1917, in Mexico City, DF. She attended private elementary and secondary schools. As a child, she was surrounded by classical music. Kitty learned to play the violin at a young age and eventually attended the National Conservatory of Music of Mexico. She had a keen interest in English and French and in the course of her studies, she received a scholarship to attend Bucknell University in Lewisberg, PA.

Both Harry and Kitty attended the Institut Francais de lAmerique Latine in 1951. They met, fell in love and in 1955, became lifetime sweethearts in marriage. The couple settled in Lake Charles, LA, where Harry accepted his first faculty position in the modern language department at McNeese State College, followed soon after by a second faculty post at Southwestern State College in Weatherford, OK where he taught French, German and Spanish. A summer session spent teaching at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion convinced him to move to his third and final faculty position in 1960. He taught French, German and Spanish and served as a Head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages. He retired as a Professor Emeritus in 1982. He was greatly admired for his rigorous immersion method of teaching languages, and was popular with the students and well-respected in the University community.

Kitty felt being a wife and mother were the most important things in life for her and set aside her career to devote herself completely. As she had more time, she gave private Spanish lessons and taught part-time. Kitty enjoyed sketching and painting in oils, which she continued most of her life. She enjoyed reading and was an eternal student.

Harry and Kitty enjoyed traveling, learning of other cultures and any chance to practice languages. Notable journeys included a trip through Central America (Houston, TX to Panama in the early 1950s). In the summer of 1962, Harry and his family drove from South Dakota to Nome, AK on the old un-paved Alaska Highway, then on to Mexico City and back. They enjoyed several trips to Europe as a family and well into their retired years. At the age of 86, they drove from South Dakota and spent three months touring Alaska. They continued to make trips to Florida and Texas to visit family until they were 88.

Harry and Kitty were deeply religious and were members of the congregation of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Vermillion. Harry was a member of the American Legion, Paris Post No. 1 for 64 years. He was a former member of the Vermillion Rotary Club, President of the University Federal Credit Union, Fulbright advisor.

The biggest legacy Harry and Kitty left was a constant example of their extraordinary love for each other, their family and friends. They are survived by their daughter, Joyce Koenig (Kenneth Schowengerdt) and granddaughter, Mia, of St. Louis, MO; daughter, Carolyn Koenig (James Lungren)of Grapevine, TX; his brother, Gnther Koenig, of Bonn, Germany; and many nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Colleyville, TX on Jan. 10, 2011 with a Resurrection Mass the following morning. Harry and Kitty will be interred at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, TX. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Harry and Kitty Koenig Scholarship Fund through Bank of the West.

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