OBITUARY: Kathryn Eileen Goppelt (1951-2022)
Kathryn Eileen Goppelt, a Christian, missionary, mother, homeschooler, homesteader, political activist, and state legislative assistant, passed away on Oct. 16, 2022 at her home in Gonzales, Louisiana, due to cancer.
Although her departure leaves a permanent ache in our hearts, we do not grieve as those without hope. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
Kathryn was born on February 25, 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa to Alanson Malcolm Fitchett and Darleen May Boyd. When Kathryn was eight, her mother died and she was raised by her grandmother, Frances Hronish Boyd, in the nearby town of Dexter.
Active in myriad programs during high school including choir, track, basketball, and FFA, Kathryn’s life purpose pivoted when she committed her life to Jesus Christ after watching a Billy Graham film. Attending college at Iowa State University, she graduated in 1972 with a B.S. in Physical Education with Honors & Distinction. She volunteered in multiple P.E. programs for special needs individuals, and meanwhile grew in her faith though The Navigators, an interdenominational organization that equips Christians to be modern-day disciples of Jesus and share their faith with others. She also served as a teacher/missionary in Juba, South Sudan, a Navigators staff member in the U.S., and a teacher/missionary in Amman, Jordan.
Although content as a single missionary, Kathryn followed God’s leading to marry at age 33, embracing her new family ministry as a wife to Vern “Lou” Goppelt, Jr. and later a mother to Paul (1985), Daniel (1988), Philip (1990), Deborah (1993), and David (1995).
Even in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Lou and Kathryn were concerned about the humanist and amoral worldview of government schools. Taking to heart God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 6:7 to “teach [God’s words] diligently unto thy children,” they developed a unique blend of curriculum and extracurricular activities to homeschool and disciple their children in their Christian faith. In 1994, Lou and Kathryn moved from suburban Baton Rouge to rural Ascension Parish, built a home, and began developing a small farm. They encouraged their children by instruction and example to learn personal responsibility and hard work through farm chores, building projects, and caring for elderly relatives (including grandmother Frances). Homesteading was supplemented with Christian service activities, a homeschooling group at their church (Gonzales Baptist Temple), and music lessons.
Beginning around 1998, Kathryn wrote letters to the editor, volunteered for political campaigns/causes, helped pass ordinances, and even ran for office to promote good government. In 2014, the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Women’s Club presented her with the Red Pelican Award for “conservative community advocacy.” In the current legislative term that began in 2020, she served as legislative assistant for State Representative Kathy Edmonston, and personally assisted many people (including non- constituents) in making healthcare decisions free from coercion, in accordance with their conscience. Like all of her other life works, the secret of her controversial stances in the civic arena was not fame, nor even the prosperity and education of her community. Rather, her true desire was advancing the kingdom of God. She believed that without Him, all efforts for peace and happiness are ultimately doomed. She joyfully looked forward to our true hope for a just government: the prophesied resurrection of all believers with glorified bodies, and the millennial reign of Christ on the earth, at the end of this age (Revelation 20:6).
Kathryn was preceded in death by her parents, her uncle Robert J. Boyd, and her aunt Ellen Montoya. She is survived by her husband and children, her aunt Kathleen Fischer, her brother Alanson “Lanny” Robert Fitchett, and her sister Darleen Janette Stutsman.
Visitation: Gonzales Baptist Temple, 2807 S. Hodgeson Ave, Gonzales, LA 70737 on Friday, Oct. 21 from 5-8 pm and on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10-11 am, with a memorial service at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to The Navigators (donations.navigators.org) in her honor/memory. Thanks to all the healthcare workers and friends who have blessed us with meals, visits, care, and prayers.