The Kansas Wesleyan University Choir took a little detour from its spring tour Tuesday to present a special performance at Via Christi Village.
“They sang Monday night in Fort Scott and were on their way to Wichita, so we were in the right place at the right time,” said Ruth Courter.
She and her husband, John, a Via Christi Village resident, were in the KWU choir during their younger days.
“On a whim, we e-mailed choir director Ken Hakoda and asked if they would be willing to put on a short choir performance at Via Christi Village on their way through the area,” said their daughter, Carol Wimmer. “Very generously they agreed. I feel they went out of their way to make my parents’ wish come true.”
Hakoda said that it was no problem to make a little change in plans.
“It’s a pleasure to be here,” he said before the concert. “I’m pleased they invited us.”
The program included both religious and secular offerings, ranging from “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from “The Lion King” to Hakoda’s own arrangement of “Nearer My God to Thee.”
“One of my mentors died and I wanted to do something in his memory, so I wrote this arrangement in 2004,” he said.
By long tradition, the choir closed the program with “Beautiful Savior.”
“That’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Mrs. Courter said.
She and her future husband were traveling through Colorado during the spring tour in 1951 when she fainted during a rehearsal. He took her out for a drink of water, and that led to their first date.
John Courter was drafted into the U.S. Army at 18 and served in France and Germany for four years. The World War II veteran enrolled in Kansas Wesleyan University in 1946 and graduated in 1950. After graduation, he was offered the opportunity to work as KWU admissions counselor, and continued as director of university services and then dean of students.
Page 2 of 2 - Mrs. Courter graduated from KWU with a degree in elementary education.
The couple married on Aug. 9, 1952. During the time they lived in Salina they welcomed their three daughters, Ann, Cathee and Carol.
Courter earned a doctorate in education from Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y., in 1963. From 1964 to 1970 he was dean of students at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., then served as vice president/dean of the college at Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa. He was president of Westmar from 1979 to 1982. From 1983 to1990 he was director of resource development and community relations at Wesley Retirement Services Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, and also led tours for residents to Asia and Europe.
Mrs. Courter taught school and later worked as a realtor in Des Moines until her husband’s retirement.
They continued to live in West Des Moines, enjoying traveling and their grandchildren, until 2006, when he was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, an inflammatory muscle disorder that leads to progressive weakness. At that time their daughter, Carol Wimmer, a physical therapist at Via Christi Hospital, encouraged them to move to Pittsburg.
Courter suffered a stroke in 2011 and now resides at Via Christi Village. Mrs. Courter visits him daily and often takes him home in the afternoons. She said that she has become acquainted with Via Christi residents and appreciates the routine of daily life.
“John and I both benefit from the caring love and support extended by the Via Christi Village staff and feel we have the best of two worlds,” Mrs. Courter said.
The best got even better Tuesday with the performance by the Kansas Wesleyan University Choir, which came just one day following Mrs. Courter’s birthday.
“It brought back wonderful memories,” she said.