January 29, 1919 – September 12, 2018
Eloise Dickinson Koren, age 99, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, went peacefully and joyfully into the presence of her Savior on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, at her home with her daughter Barbara and son-in-law Rick at her side.Eloise was born on January 29, 1919, in Baker County, FL, to Maggie (Batson) and Robert Collins and later was adopted by her step-father, Joseph Dickinson. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 63 years, Rev. Robert Alfred Koren.
Surviving her are three daughters, Patricia (Robert) Windsor of Bethesda, MD, Kathleen (Robert) Sea of Lubbock, TX, Barbara (Richard) Kalehoff of Ft. Lauderdale; and one son, Robert Koren II of Fairfield, OH; 15 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Betty Jo Joiner of St. Augustine, FL.
Memorial Services celebrating her life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 29, at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Richard Kalehoff officiating. Burial will be in the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, FL.
A Good Word by Eloise’s grandson, Matthew Windsor:
Whose side are you on?
You have probably heard a song called “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” It has been covered by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart. But “Sunny Side” was born in 1930, a few months after the start of the Great Depression – written for a forgettable Broadway musical at a time when the whole world needed cheering up.
My grandmother, Eloise Dickinson Koren, was born in 1919 and grew up in the heart of the Great Depression, which arrived soon after the Great Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 — Black Sunday — that blew off her family’s roof and killed as many as 3,000 people. Before that, her father had been run out of town by a murderous group of cowboys, and a little sister died in infancy.
During the Depression, more than a third of the workforce couldn’t find work, and even those, like her stepfather, who had held onto their jobs often had to travel across the country to keep them. Young Eloise knew she would have to work for a living herself, so in high school in Avon Park, Florida, she took every practical class available: typing, shorthand, bookkeeping. She graduated in 1938, with a senior class that in her words was “ready to change the world.” But more storm clouds were brewing. Soon Europe was at war, with the United States not far behind. You get the point. Life was tough, and the scars of the Great Depression haunt us today, in gloomy photographs and the terror that lay behind the Great Recession of the last decade. But Eloise was determined not to let events cloud her outlook. “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was one of her favorite songs, and a constant refrain when she was tempted to feel low. “Leave your worries on the doorstep,” it said, and “If I never have a cent, I’ll be rich as Rockefeller.” She was never rich, but that’s no matter. Her treasure was elsewhere.
Eloise loved reading — literature and poetry and especially, at least in her later years, biographies. When she wrote her own memoirs, in 2010, she made it clear at the outset that she wanted to pass on the moments from the sunny side. “I do not tell everything I remember in my life,” she said. “I tell only the happy hours. I tell only those things that God has shown me where He led me all the way.” And there is the key to it all. She grew up for many years without a father, but she knew her true Father in heaven. She lived through all the traumas of the 20th century, but she knew that it was her Savior leading her all the way.
During the war Eloise visited a friend in Miami for a quick holiday, and ended up with a job keeping books at a massive Army base. She caught the eye of a young lieutenant from Ashtabula, Ohio, Robert Koren, and they got married soon after he got out of the service, in 1946. They moved back to Ohio, then on to Harvard, where she helped put her husband through school and raised two daughters, Patricia and Kathleen, in a mobile home. To earn extra money, she typed up papers for wealthier students, and read them with great interest. One of Bob’s classmates joked, “you’re cheating the university — you’re paying for one education but getting two.”
After Bob graduated with his MBA from Harvard Business School, the family moved back to Ashtabula, where they had a third daughter, Barbara. Then they decided to return to sunny Florida and open their own business, a bakery, named Patti-Kayk after their two oldest girls. Finally there was a boy, Bobby, and the family was complete. But they weren’t finished changing. The Korens were members of a local Presbyterian church, and Bob became the Sunday School superintendent. Then they were drawn to another Presbyterian church in northern Fort Lauderdale with a dynamic young preacher, James Kennedy. The whole family was excited, learning about evangelism and missions, and thinking about how they could better serve the Lord. Bob Koren went off to Mississippi in his 40s, to learn to become a minister, and the family followed. He came back as a church planter in the wilds of western Fort Lauderdale, sowing the Word in Tamarac before joining the staff at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.. More than 50 years later, here we are. There is a photo of Bob Koren, along with Dr. Kennedy and the other ministers, digging ceremonial clods of dirt from the construction site that would become this beautiful sanctuary. But Eloise helped build the church right alongside him – leading women’s Circle groups, working as a minister’s assistant, sharing words of help and encouragement with women who needed a friend. She raised a missionary and gained two ministers by marriage, and left a legacy of life: children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who know and love the Lord and His work. Eloise was a great memorizer, of the Bible and of poetry, and she knew how to use both to encourage herself and others. She walked with many friends, family and church members through the valley of the shadow of death, but even there she found light, a sunny side, at the Lord’s side.
“The path of the just” says Proverbs 4, “is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto that perfect day.” Even as her eye sight grew dim in later years, and took away reading (one of her great joys), she found a sunny side. Her daughters read to her every night and her path did grow brighter as she approached the joy of the Lord.
Eloise Dickinson Koren was born at home and died at home, and the road in between had its times of dark and light, just like all lives. But she chose to walk on the sunny side. Now she is truly home, praise God, with her husband and her father and her Savior, in a place where there is no darkness and there are no tears. There is no night there. Revelation 22 gives us a glimpse: “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” I know that one day, that’s where I’ll see my grandmother and grandfather again. I hope to see you, too.