Teresa Josephine Kouba
October 17, 1918 – May 18, 2020
Teresa Josephine Kouba “Aunt Tweet” October 17, 1918 to May 18, 2020
Our Unclaimed Blessing, Teresa Josephine Kouba, departed for Heaven on May 18, 2020 after 101 years, 7 months and 1 day on this earth. She was born during the 1918 Pandemic and left us during the 2020 Pandemic, much like Mark Twain came and left with Haley’s Comet. She’d like to be associated with that reference! She seemed immune to pandemics and even liked to joke that she was born just three weeks before the end of World War I because God figured that if Teresa was in the world, humans couldn’t handle a world war, too. Born October 17, 1918 to Thomas and Mabel Hansen Kouba, she was their fourth child, joining older brother Paul Francis and Rose Cecelia. Another child, Edward, died shortly after birth. Thomas succumbed to ALS in 1922, forcing Paul to become the breadwinner of the family. Mabel moved the children to Kansas City from Chicago so she could be closer to one of her brothers. They settled in the Northeast area of Kansas City, where Teresa would send most of her life. She attended St. Michael’s parish school and then Redemptorist for high school. When Teresa was 12 the family took in the godchild of Paul and Rose, Teresa Rose Brennan, when Mrs. Brennan was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was ordered to report to a sanitarium. Mrs. Brennan died just months after Teresa Rose was given to the Kouba family. The Kouba’s legally changed Teresa Rose’s name to Frances Patricia Kouba to avoid the confusion of 2 Teresa’s and 2 Rose’s in the house. Teresa the elder proved to be a great big sister, doting on Frances and later in life this relationship would prove in valuable as Teresa became very close to Fran’s children and grandchildren. Teresa completed high school and attended the College of St. Teresa junior college. She received her associate’s degree in 1939 and continued to work at the college as she had done to earn her tuition. Three years later she graduated in the first four-year degree class of St. Teresa’s (now Avila University) with a bachelor’s degree in English. She landed a “temporary” job at General Mills as a bookkeeper. She did the mill’s payroll and could complete all the calculations in her head. Social life for Teresa revolved around family and church. Rose Cecelia had joined the Servite Sisters (OSM) convent when she was 18, so Teresa was relied on heavily for household chores, even baking bread to earn extra money during the Depression. Her cooking and baking skills were unequaled; she must have inherited Mabel’s Danish ancestor’s flair for perfect pastries. Just ask anyone who enjoyed her lemon bars or who ate her pumpkin pies. At St. Aloysius Church she participated in the sodality and alter society, having many Italian friends who shared their cooking skills with her. She was a faithful Catholic who could be called upon to assist with whatever the church needed. When her sister Frances married and started a family, Teresa became an aunt – her favorite “job” of all that she held in her lifetime. Soon she had 2 nieces and a nephew. It was the nieces who christened her with a nickname that stuck…Aunt Tweety Bird. Teresa had become the caretaker of Paul’s canaries after he passed away from ALS in 1961. Her favorite bird was a yellow canary named Tea Kettle because he sang so beautifully. For the rest of her life, Aunt Tweet was the only name her nieces and nephew and their children called her. Aunt Tweet retired from General Mills in 1973 to pursue other interests. She worked for Felix Camera’s and then took a job caring for a developmentally disabled child. Lisa Heiman became the light of Aunt Tweet’s world, and it was mutual. Aunt Tweet worked with Lisa 5 days a week, teaching her to chew and swallow and using therapeutic movements to program her muscle memory. Even in later years Aunt Tweet would visit Lisa to check in on her. When she retired from her paid positions, she began her volunteer career. Kaleidoscope, American Nurses Association, St. Al’s, Truman Medical Center and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception were a few of her favorite volunteer gigs. She worked in food pantries, at a café serving homeless Kansas Citians and in offices when administrative help was needed. There was no task beneath her. She enjoyed doing what she could to make everyone’s life better. Throughout her life, a number of people were very important to her. Her neighbors of more than 50 years, Adelphia and George Shanks, their daughters and husbands, Patty and Bob Flinn and Denise and Phil Leon. Aunt Tweet had a special relationship with Patty’s children Jon and Melody. Aunt Tweet became a fixture at Flinn family gatherings, getting to know Jon’s wife and daughters and Melody’s husband and daughters. She enjoyed many happy milestones of all the Shanks, Flinn, Leon and Murch extended families. Also of great importance was her Kaleidoscope Monday group of volunteers. She volunteered over 5,000 hours during the nearly 30 years she ran the jigsaw puzzle machine on Mondays. She often went to family social events with these women and their families and had a ball in the process. She endured many hardships through the years. She was the main caregiver to Paul for two years and then while on a pilgrimage to Europe, Rose Cecilia (now Sr. Mary Joanna) passed away unexpectedly. Aunt Tweet had to come home alone and heartbroken. But she survived and carried on. The highlight of her later years were her great niece and nephews, Devon Jace, and Tighe Bardwell. She lived with her niece and family for a short time, playing with the little ones and teaching them. Mornings consisted of someone “sharing” her fresh pears and toast or Turkish apricots, afternoons were treks through the neighborhood with kids in strollers watching “dirt diggers” work on construction sites and evenings were spent reading books and telling bedtime stories. As they grew, Aunt Tweet took them on weekends, one at a time, and showed them “her” Kansas City. Steamboat Arabia, the City Market, the Brookside Toy Store and barbershop, Kaleidoscope and Crown Center. Many shopping trips throughout the city involved finding special items for each child. When she had open heart surgery at 85, the great niece and nephews cared for her, making sure she was able to get around her apartment safely. She never met a child who didn’t end up loving her. She is survived by her niece Jane Bardwell, great-nephews Jace David and Tighe Peterson Bardwell, great-niece Devon Teresa Bardwell, niece Marti Dawson and her children Nicholas and Marina Dawson, nephew Mike Seis and his children Capt. Michael Seis, Jack and Genevieve Seis. Teresa will be laid to rest next to her beloved brother Paul in Mt. Olivet Cemetery following a Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 10 a.m., May 23, 2020. Visitation will be 9:30 a.m. at the Cathedral. As we say goodbye to her, we carry with us forever the spirit of love and determination she gave to each of us. Love you, we do, Aunt Tweet!
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Mass of Christian Burial
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Teresa Josephine Kouba
May 22, 2020
This incredible woman is now an angel in heaven. Teresa was the most generous, kind and amazing person I will likely ever know. I was blessed to have grown up next door to her as she was the best playmate anyone could ask for. Although there were 56 years between us, it never mattered. From playing house to shoe store to Barbies to even kickball and basketball in my backyard, she was there playing with me. I could probably write a book about everything Teresa and I did together over the years.
Everyone she met instantly fell in love with her spirit. And she loved everyone! She was pure joy. The earth was a better place for the last (almost) 102 years because of the person she was. You will be forever missed and forever in my heart, Teresa.
May 21, 2020
use to take Teresa out to lunch to the Crackle Barrel and take her back to Truman East every month