Cover photo for Verna Ruth Howard Kirschner's Obituary
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1934 Verna Ruth Howard Kirschner 2023

Verna Ruth Howard Kirschner

September 19, 1934 — December 31, 2023

St. Joesph

Verna Ruth Howard Kirschner lived most of her life in St. Joseph, Missouri, before passing away on December 31, 2023 in Chicago. Born in Hamburg, Iowa, on September 19, 1934, her family returned to St. Joseph within a few months of her birth. Her father, Clifford Vernon Howard, worked for the school district, as did her mother, Roberta Ruth Kinnison Howard. Verna had only one sibling — a younger brother, Lawrence Howard, who passed away in 1960. 

Verna attended Sherwood Elementary School, Bliss Junior High School, Central High School, and St. Joseph Junior College, after which she attended the University of Kansas. She loved swimming, intramural athletics, and art. She made the National Honor Society at Central, and the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa at St. Joseph Junior College, where she was the valedictorian of her class.  At the University of Kansas, she was inducted into the national honorary education sorority Pi Lambda Theta.  Also at the junior college, Verna met her future husband, a veteran of the 1950’s German occupation, Oscar Kirschner, Jr.  They fell in love and married on September 1, 1955, at the start of her senior year at KU.  Together they had four children — Michael Kevin, Kristi Leigh, David Lawrence, and Karl Nicholas — before divorcing in 1998. 

Family was always important to Verna from childhood — when elderly relatives came to live in their small house — to the end of her life. She enjoyed travelling to visit her children and grandchildren or having them stay for extended visits.  Verna missed her children living in St. Joseph, so she especially enjoyed her granddaughter Noelani living with her for two consecutive summers while working as an intern in Kansas City.

Verna cherished her friendships and she continually made new friends while maintaining old ones.  She met a particularly adored friend when she was four years old; they remained friends for the next 85 years until Verna’s death.  The highlight of Verna’s week was going out to eat with her myriad friends — delivering meals with them for charity or, a particular favorite, having a hot dog roast at Krug Park.

Verna intensely valued education. She instilled this value in her children and grandchildren who have benefited from the sacrifices she and Oscar made for the sake of their education. Verna taught 5th grade at Hawthorne/Coleman Elementary for most of her career. While working there, she spent several summers earning her master’s degree in education. She retired in 1998.

Verna will be missed by her children and their spouses:  Michael Kirschner and Elisabeth Wright; Kristi Kirschner and Raymond Curry; David and Carol Kirschner; and Karl and Silke Kirschner.  By her grandchildren and their two spouses:  Alexandra (Sasha) Kirschner and Matthew O’Connor; Noelani Kirschner and Paul Blakeslee; Samuel Curry; William Curry; Hannah Kirschner; Daniel Kirschner; and Marie Josephine Kirschner.  By her two great-grandchildren:  Rose O’Connor and Rowan O’Connor.

A funeral service will be held at First Lutheran Church on March 30, 2024.  More details will be provided at a future date.  In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in Verna’s memory to First Lutheran Church or Interserv’s Meals on Wheels program.

Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options of Schiller Park, Illinois.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Verna Ruth Howard Kirschner, please visit our flower store.

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

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