Ardell E. Kuchenbecker
A “Rare Bird”
Passed peacefully on January 5, 2013. Much loved by her family and friends and highly regarded by all who knew her. Born in Duluth, MN on August 25th, 1921 to Helga Ann Larson Kuchenbecker and George William Kuchenbecker. Ardell is survived by her “little” brother George and beloved sister-in-law Gloria, whom she called “Sis”; nephews David and Mark Kuchenbecker; David’s wife Patti, sons Mathew and Austin and their wives, and Mathew’s children, James and Axel; and Mark’s daughters Rebekah (Becky) Ardell and Jodi Noel.
Ardell received a Masters Degree in Nursing Education in 1951 from the University of Minnesota. During 1952-1954, while in the Army Reserve, she did post graduate work and taught in the University of Washington School of Nursing.
In 1945 Ardell joined the U.S. Army and served as a nurse in the Philippines and continental US, achieving the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. In 1951, she entered the Reserve Service, Army Nurse Corps – UAS, and achieved the rank of Captain. In 1954 she was medically discharged due to multiple-sclerosis. Of great pride to Ardell, she, her mother, and brother George all served in the military at the same time.
After the military, Ardell supervised nursing at Group Health in Seattle, and then spent 10 years with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. She was named “Nurse of the Year” by the King County Nurses Association and awarded a “scroll of honor” by the King County and Washington State Nurses Associations.
In 1970, Ardell retired from nursing and moved to Coupeville, Washington, where she and her good friend, Christine Hoogerwerf, established an antique business called “This ?n That.” She couldn’t be prouder of this phase of her life.
In 1975, after Chris died, Ardell sold the shop, moved back to Seattle, and began her life of volunteerism and philanthropy. She volunteered regularly at nonprofit organizations, especially her church, Saint Peter by the Sea (now joined with Edmonds Lutheran Church) and Seattle Audubon. She received several awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation “in recognition of extraordinary community service” by the 1990 Goodwill Summer Games & Arts Festival.
An avid philanthropist, Ardell donated valuable sea shore and wetland property to the Nature Conservancy and Seattle Audubon and gave generously to numerous charities. She funded educational pursuits for many deserving people, including a passel of young people she called “my kids.” In honor of her mother (Ardell’s father died when she was five), she was especially helpful to single mothers in need.
Ardell was inducted into a group of Seattle Audubon donors called “Rare Birds.” She worked with the legendary Hazel Wolf in providing special nature programs for youth and helped fund many other programs. Working with former director of Seattle Audubon, Chris Peterson, she provided seed money and on-going support for BirdNote, now heard by millions on public radio stations across the country, including KPLU FM. Traveling widely in the U.S. and Europe, Ardell compiled volumes of birding journals.
Memorial services are Saturday, January 19th, 2013 at Edmonds Lutheran Church, 23525 84th Ave. W. Edmonds, WA. 98026. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to BirdNote, P.O. Box 99456, Seattle, WA 98139-0456 or on-line at birdnote.org.