Home 9 Obituaries 9 Grace Elizabeth (Downey) Koehler

Grace Elizabeth (Downey) Koehler

January 26, 1957 - November 11, 2020

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Grace Elizabeth (Downey) Koehler, age 63, died peacefully surrounded by her family on November 11, 2020.  Grace was born in Nutley, New Jersey and moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1966.  Grace attended St. James School and Prospect High School.  Grace graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in Agronomy.  Grace was blessed to have a career in what she loved, specializing in native plants.

Grace married Peter Koehler in 1983 and has 3 loving children.  Grace loved God, her family, friends, natural spaces and biking. Grace and Peter are long time members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in St. Charles, IL and Oblates at Marmion Abbey. Grace was an avid knitter and was always making her friends and family beautiful knitted gifts.  Grace sang in the St. Patrick’s and Marmion’s choirs and the Elgin Choral Union under the direction of Robert Hanson. She shared her wonderful gift of song with countless families for their weddings and funerals.

Grace is survived by her husband Peter, her children: Anna Koehler (Daniel Schnarr), Michael (Samantha) Koehler, and Terence (Rachael) Koehler.  She was grandmother (Nini) to 6 grandchildren: Emma, Vincent, Andrew, Zadie, Olive and Leo.  She is survived by 4 brothers and sisters: Kathleen (Michael) Krepps, Philip (Leslie) Downey, Clare (Edward) Malysiak, and Paul (Jean O’Malley) Downey.

Grace was preceded in death by her mother and father, Philip and Elizabeth (Betty) Downey.

Grace will be remembered for her faithfulness, patience, large heart and voice of an angel.

In lieu of flowers please make a donation to Foundation for Women’s Cancer

A private visitation will be held at Yurs Funeral Home in St. Charles due to COVID-19 restrictions, but all family and friends are invited to a virtual Zoom Wake service at 5:30 P.M. Monday, November 16, 2020. A Private Funeral Mass will be celebrated 10:30 A.M., November 17, 2020, at St. Patrick Catholic Church 6N491 Crane Rd, St. Charles, IL 60175. To virtually attend the wake service via Zoom meeting please go to and click “Join a Meeting” in the upper right hand corner of screen, then use meeting ID# 923 7324 9288 and pass code: Koehler. To Attend the Funeral Mass via Zoom use meeting ID# 995 0367 9698 and pass code: Koehler. For any further questions, please call Yurs Funeral Home of St.Charles at 630-584-0060.
A celebration for all Grace’s family and friends to attend, will be June 5th details forth coming.


Dianne Lenert Hurrell from Sugar Grove, IL

"I was blessed beyond measure to have Grace as a part of my life. We first meet when I joined Marmion's choir. I enjoyed everything about Grace and we became friends. She shared her knowledge of music with me and I loved seeing her, standing beside her, singing with her and laughing with her! She made me a fabulous hat that was a tad too large so I washed it and shrunk it. I felt like a bad child bringing the hat to church and showing her what I had done...of course she laughed, took it back, gave it to one of her grandkids and made me a new one which I will cherish forever. We shared a love of gardening and she shared her knowledge of plants with me and I am pleased to have many of them in my yard. I am so incredibly saddened by her passing but I know she is enjoying her salvation! She will be certainly be missed and will never be forgotten. My condolences go out to her entire family."

Mary Rogozinski from Arlington Hts, IL

"Grace was a dear friend when we both attended St James. We both loved the Cubs and I remember that she was crazy about #9 Randy Hundley. She always chose “9” when presented with the opportunity. I will also always remember her smile and wit. We attended different high schools and it was so great to reconnect with her at SJS reunions. So sorry for her family to lose such a wonderful person so early. 💙 My thoughts are with you."

Lisa Kaczor Linnell from Palm Beach Gardens, FL

"Sweet, peaceful memories are wished for all of the family. Our families bonded many years ago and we have very fond memories shared with the Downeys. Grace was my childhood friend and although the years have passed, the fun memories of sweet, carefree childhood will remain. The Kaczor Clan"

Tom Hansen from Princeton, TX

"Aw, Pete, I’m not going to find the right words. None of them are right tonight. Let us just hold tight to that bright starry night in Grand Portage, shimmering off the snow like eternity itself; we shared a little heaven skiing up there. i will forever remember Gracie’s happy exhaustion, the moonlight making a halo of her heavy breath. We were so happy, so alive right then and right there and, now it is where I’ll keep her smile. God bless you and the kids. Love, Tom Hansen"

Bobbie and Jim Sauter from Elgin, IL

"Our heart and prayers are with your family at this sad time. Remembering Grace as a beautiful, caring soul❤️"

Pat Porter from Wheaton, IL

"Clare and family, Can’t imagine the grief you must feel at this time, Losing a sister and such a beautiful soul is heartbreaking. Wishing you peace in the coming days."

Peter Koehler from north aurora, IL

"Dearest Grace, I"l love you forever. you saved my life ! You saved my life spiritually and physically! Pete"

Peter Koehler from north aurora, IL

"Dearest Grace: I"llove you my whole life"

Bill and Connie Johnson from Yorkville, IL

"Dear Pete and family, please accept our deepest sympathy for the loss of your loved one. 🙏🏻 Bill and Connie Johnson"

Carol Becker from Park Ridge , IL

"Grace was a shining light in the sustainability movement and a best friend for many years. She knew so much, she cared so much, and she worked so hard. I treasure memories of her leadership and guidance when I entered the horticulture world as a professional. In the last year she was also my cancer buddy, guiding me through women's cancer, always telling me I would be ok when she herself was also in treatment. I can't quite see the future without her in it, and my heart goes out to all the family."

Vince Badali from St. Charles, IL

"Prayers and Peace for Grace and the whole family."

Danielle and Eric Ebersole from Port Charlotte, FL

"Pete and family, you have our deepest sympathy. Our hearts were broken when we received the news of your loss. Grace has been taken way too soon. We are all so lucky to have had her in our lives. She showed us all to be kinder, more thoughtful and caring, and the beauty of nature. She was a special lady, an inspiration to each of us to be better. Grace you will be missed. Every time we hear a bird sing our hearts will think of Grace and know she is with us. Danielle and Eric"

Lori Keefer Wilson from Safety Harbor, FL

"I’m so very sad to hear that Grace is gone. We were close friends in high school. She and I used to drive into Mt. Prospect and visit the Busse greenhouses. We would walk up and down the aisles of raised beds where they would grow all their flowers. Grace was the only person who understood when I would say to her “don’t you smell the color green when we’re in here?” We probably seemed funny to those around us. But Grace knew and loved that scent. Heartbreaking to lose her...but work in your garden and you’ll know she’s still here."

Lori Wilson from Safety Harbors , FL

"The last time I spoke to her, she told me something that really touched me. In high school, she and I often went into Mt Prospect and we would go to Busse’s greenhouse over by the post office. I had always grown weird plants and flowers. Stuck and avocado pit in a pot of dirt in college and sure enough it sprouted. Never really grew Pot because I was always afraid of getting caught! But Grace told me, when I last saw her at our reunion, that she went into the Botany major in college because she fell in love with plants from our frequent trips to the Busse greenhouses."

melinda hays from st charles, IL

"I am heartbroken to hear about your loss after all the battles Grace has been through. She really did exemplify her name. Thought, hugs and prayers for you all."

Joe and Mary Lynch from Spring Lake , NJ

"Beautiful Cousin Grace , part of your spirit will always be here with us at the Jersey Shore"

Mike and Susan Mitchell from St.Charles, IL

"Grace with a beautiful personality will be missed by all who know her! She entered our life through Church. She honored my family with song at my mother’s birth into our Lord’s arms. May she be in heaven singing with the angelic choir of all our loved , dearly departed ."

Jennifer Blanzy from Grosse Pointe Park, MI

"I am so very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers."

lisa bertke from geneva, IL

"Dearest Grace: I know you are looking down on us- shine your grace on us. I remember sitting at marmion praying with you as the monks chanted. we have always been soul sisters. the chance meeting with you at fruitful yeild was no accident. god provided us that moment in which i will cherish. thank you for sharing your beauty with me. you will be missed- i will see you on the other side my friend. with love-lisa"

Sheila Carter from Powder Springs, GA

"Pete & Anna, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and I hope that happy memories will bring many smiles to you."

Christa Orum-Keller from St. Charles, IL

"Pete & Family - Sending deepest condolences for your tremendous loss. My memories of Grace are bright, energetic, smiling, joyful, optimistic --- and passionate about all the good work we could do to care for our earth. Unwavering. A wonderful teacher. Inspiring. It was a privilege to know Grace. Blessings and comfort to all of you at this difficult time."

Philip J Downey from Washington DC, AK

"Once while walking in a forest with Grace we heard a captivating birdsong. "Listen", said Grace, "the wood thrush, my favorite!" The song was imprinted, we never forgot it, and thereafter anxiously awaited the spring return of our coloratura of the forest. From now on we'll hear Grace in that bright, clear song. "I'm still here. Don't forget me." I think Grace had a visceral connection to our sister, mother earth. She found never ending joy in the subtle beauty of creation. Not so much the big flashy flowers, but the small beauties, the tiny flowers, the seed pods of prairie grasses, her beloved pollinators hovering around a blooming shrub. She felt creation's pain and became a fierce champion for restoring native ecosystems. She transformed landscapes and the lives of those who worked alongside her--a beloved teacher, colleague and uncompromising fighter to heal our wounded planet. Don't forget her passion. Find her power. Let her inspire you."

Kimberly (Gurga) and Dave Bianchi from Elgin, IL

"Grace. You are truly loved and will be greatly missed. Thank you for your light, your song, your joy and your compassion. While millions join the theme - Sing on, dear one - sing on!"

Bev & Matt Koehler from Nashua, NH

"Our hearts are broken as we learn of Grace's passing. We feel blessed that we were able to catch up with her and with Peter last year at the Holidays. Just know that you are all in our prayers and we are sending positive thoughts and hugs from NH."

Meg Fischer from Des Plaines, IL

"Pete. Anna & family my prayers are with you and your family. Grace was a special person and gone too soon. My sympathies for your loss"

Jeff Gibson from Saint Charles, IL

"To the whole Kohler family, My Deepest condolences to your family. Grace and I have been industry friends since her time at Midwest Ground covers. We have been together at numerous landscape industry meetings. Grace was a shining ray of light, always happy to share and always making everyone around her feel at ease. Her technical knowledge in the field was amazing, and she always shared what she knew. I admired her single minded approach to the cause of getting more acreage turned over to natives. I can thank Grace for the inspiration to put in a sedge lawn in my own garden. I will forever be thankful, and better off having known her. I will miss our times together."

Annemarie Marwitz Kallenbach from Adrian, MI

"Condolences on the loss of a beautiful valiant woman."

Stacey Schnebel from Coram, MT

"I knew Grace as my best friend's mom. My childhood memories of her include the smell of fresh bread on the counter and the sights of prairie grasses waving in the wind. Grace had great taste - her affinity for design and fine things made a lasting impression. She was kind, and always went out of her way to see me when I visited, making me feel truly like part of her family. She and Pete raised great kids who I'm proud to call friends. I love you guys, and your mom will be missed."

jim accurso from St. Paul, MN

"My memories of Grace's friendship go way back to our Prospect High School and SIU-C days. (We first met at a Friday night PHS football game when the team was pretty lousy.) She was a kind and caring soul and will be missed by many. May God's peace be with Peter and all of her children , grandchildren and siblings."

Timothy Benz from EVANSTON, IL

"Our deepest condolences to you and your family on the passing of Grace. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you during this tough time."

Tina Sevilla-Velasco from Chicago, IL

"My deepest condolences to the Koehler family. I will remember Grace not only for her professionalism and expertise but also for her kindness-- not only to people but also to Mother Earth."

Mike & Kathy Foulkes from St. Charles, IL

"Dear Pete and Family, We are so very sorry for the loss of your lovely wife and mother. Gracie was a dear sweet lady and we always enjoyed her singing at mass. She will be missed. Take care and God bless you."

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