St. Olaf College is mourning the passing of Jennifer Anderson Koenig, who served as a spiritual leader at the campus for over 15 years.
Koenig died in Northfield on the morning of Sept. 20, 2013 after a lengthy fight with brain cancer. She was 47 years old.
Her history with the college is a long one. Koenig was a graduate of St. Olaf's class of 1987, where she majored in dance. After college, she pursued a career in the arts. She performed with a professional modern dance company, Ballet Harren, for three years. She was called to the ministry, however, and in 1994 she earned her master of divinity degree from Luther Seminary.
Her service in the church ultimately led her back to her alma mater. Following a three-year stint in Iowa she was hired to the church staff at St. Olaf. According to officials at the school, Koenig described the position as her “dream call.”
Her former colleague, retired College Pastor Bruce Benson, praised her compassion and sensitivity.
“One of her greatest strengths was her sincere willingness to sit down and have a meaningful conversation at any time with anyone,” Benson said. “She took a genuine interest in people’s lives, and that endeared her to so many.”
Koenig served as associate college pastor until April 2012, when she went on medical leave.
The St. Olaf community rallied around Koenig to the end. Her CaringBridge website logged over 50,000 visits from former students, colleagues and friends. The community has also paid tribute to Koenig in song over the course of her illness, a fitting salute to an ardent music lover. At one point, the St. Olaf Choir serenaded her at home, in her living room, and longtime Music Director John Ferguson recently recorded several hymns in her honor, her husband wrote on CaringBridge.
"Thank you, again, for giving Jennifer the peace and love that she had during her illness. She left us with the warmth of that love wrapping her soul," Her husband David wrote in a final post. "She was never afraid and she has all of you to thank for that."
Koenig is survived by David and her two children, Anders and Sylvia.
A celebration of her life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, at Boe Chapel at St. Olaf College. Visitation will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf.