The seeds of faith that were planted early in June Kolzow’s life grew deep roots – so deep that even in her death, new shoots are springing forth.
As June Kolzow Carls lay dying, she didn’t know what year it was. Her vascular dementia worsening, she often didn’t know where she was, and she didn’t always remember who her children were. But one thing June never forgot was her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The seeds of the Gospel were planted early by parents who ensured their daughter received a Lutheran education. During confirmation at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Itasca, Illinois in 1937, June filled the margins of her German catechism with notes and Bible verses she wanted to remember. Every Saturday night, her mother would lead family prayers of preparation for Communion.
The Lord provided generously to June’s family, but those blessings became a challenge for June when her beloved father died when she was only 17, placing 2/3 of the family business on her shoulders. Having watched her father, June knew to follow God’s priorities as she managed her family finances.
Throughout her life, June also carried the burden of a close family member who struggled with alcoholism, and she experienced her own health issues as well.
As the years passed and June prepared to enter a nursing home, her Bible, prayer book and catechism showed the wear of countless hours spent in God’s Word. In all her correspondence, June signed her name followed by her comfort and refuge, 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.
Sowing the Seed
Once in the nursing home, June spent time at the bedside of residents who looked forward to sharing in June’s devotions.
“Her catechism included so many wonderful notes of faith and witness,” said Rev. Larry Rockemann, LHF development coordinator who was chaplain at June’s nursing home at the time. “What always amazed and humbled me was that even with end-stage dementia, the German Bible verses, prayers and hymns of the faith learned in childhood were still there for June.”
Looking forward to her life in heaven, June took care to provide for the Lutheran missions that were so important to her. Wayne Kolzow, her youngest son, remembers helping her to set up a charitable trust with the LCMS Foundation.
“For anyone blessed with financial wealth who has a heart for missions, a charitable trust is a great thing to consider,” Wayne said. “The trust pays you income while you’re living, and upon your death, it’s distributed to the places important to you.”
New Shoots of Faith
One of the missions important to June was the Lutheran Heritage Foundation. When June passed away on April 16, her estate planning included funds from the trust to help print the Arabic Small Catechism, which LHF recently published in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries.
“In my mother’s later years, I would read the Lord’s Prayer or some favorite hymns to her, and we’d go through her German catechism together,” Wayne said. “She learned her faith in German, and those seeds that were planted so early took root. The Holy Spirit created faith in her, in that language. Then later in her life, her faith was expressed more in English and now in her death, that faith has been extended into Arabic! It was a big thing for her to put the catechism in another language.”
“I am grateful to God for the privilege of ministering to June,” says Rev. Rockemann. “Her story is a beautiful testament to what lasts, what really and always matters.” will will