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Kathryn Lynn Kooyman

Updated: Jul 9

Kathy Kooyman passed from this world on the morning of June 11, 2024, just shy of her 60th birthday. Kathy passed at home in her sleep following one of many protracted illnesses.


                Kathy was born in Des Moines on June 27, 1964, to Frank and Jane Kooyman.  When Kathy was eight years old, she was injured in a pedestrian automobile accident in April of 1973 when an errant driver by passed stopped vehicles and a school bus with the stop sign out while Kathy was attempting to board.  Kathy survived the incident and was left a paraplegic with the use of her hands and arms.


                Kathy embraced every moment of life with her artwork, her gardening, her family, friends and her love of animals with a particular fondness for cats and kittens.


                Kathy graduated from Hoover high in 1984. When the school offered to send Kathy her diploma in the mail because the graduating venue could not “accommodate” a wheelchair, Kathy was crushed.  After some discussion with higher ups and some legal persuasion, a group of carpenters built a ramp to the stage and Kathy received her high school diploma with the rest of her graduating class. That incident was the first of many barriers that Kathy would face throughout her life.


                After high school, Kathy attended Drake University with a major in art.  Kathy graduated from Drake in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in graphic arts.  Kathy was an artist with Very Special Arts of Iowa for over thirty years. She taught art and traveled around Iowa teaching kids print making, drawing and painting.  Kathy worked for the West Des Moines Library for many years as their in-house artist. She loved working with children and in her later years she was always touched when former students would see her and tell her how much they loved her teaching. Kathy also braved Iowa summer's heat and humidity working at the Iowa State Fair face painting for over twenty years.


                After the passing of her mother, Kathy moved to Southern California in 2016 to be with family.  Although she hated to leave the West Des Moines library and her friends and family in Des Moines, Kathy fully embraced and loved California weather and the ability to garden all year round. Kathy quickly found her way around the San Fernando Valley, and she found all of the best gardening shops. She planted lemon and lime trees, a peach tree, an orange tree and an avocado tree in her back yard.  She enjoyed a home-grown peach and orange (the best she ever had) shortly before her passing. Although she missed family and friends in Iowa, she never missed Iowa winters.


                Left to miss her and cherish her memory are her two sisters, Elizabeth (Beth) Kooyman (Peggy), Wendy Kooyman Shoemaker (James) and a niece, Suzanne Shoemaker. Kathy was predeceased by her mother and father, Frank and Jane Kooyman.


                A memorial service will be held for Kathy on Thursday, July 11, 2024, at 1 pm   at Sunset Memorial Chapel, 7601 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 50321, with a grave side burial at Sunset Memorial Gardens to follow.

1 Comment

"I had the joy of meeting Kathy a young practicing artist in the eighties at the Des Moines Arts Festival 0n the Art Center and Greenwood Park grounds. This was the precursor of the Des Moines Arts Festival in downtown Des Moines.


As Kathy was in a wheelchair, I invited her to join Very Special Arts Iowa which included exhibiting her artwork across Iowa, Washington DC at The Kennedy Center and the Iowa State Fair. She also became a classroom artist teaching youths print making, collage and shadow box art. She created original face painting patterns for her to transform children at the State Fair into cats, angels and unicorns.


Kathy and Tony Orlando became friends ever since…

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