Born in the Irish Channel in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the late Edward Burke and Phyllis Bellman on July 16, 1934, Geraldine Burke Koldys Bowen (Geri) went on to lead a remarkable life, growing up at the Sacred Heart Orphanage on Esplanade Avenue, marrying at age 19, raising four children, and brightening the spirits of everyone she met. She was 86 when she passed away from COVID-19 on December 11, 2020 in Hilliard, Ohio.
Geri graduated from Sacred Heart in 1952 and was excited to work at Godchaux’s on Canal Street. Following a six-week whirlwind courtship after meeting at a dance on a Mississippi Riverboat, Geri married Matthew Koldys on May 22, 1954. Geri and Matt loved living in New Orleans and loved the Gulf Coast, and Geri frequently cooked large dinners for family, friends and anyone her husband brought home after his workday finished at The New Orleans Fairgrounds. She looked forward to making costumes each year for Mardi Gras and school events, and spent many years babysitting in her home which also served as a place for many to pass a good time over her percolated chicory coffee. She expressed great love for family and friends, and had a deep affection for children, so excited to bake cookies, play with playdoh or whatever else the children who came through her open door wanted. She was so very happy to become a grandmother. She was a dear friend and confidant to many, and had a great sense of humor and numerous unique sayings. She greatly enjoyed painting ceramics and spent summers with Matt and their children in Grove City, Ohio, often visiting his family in Connecticut. After Matt passed away in 1985, Geri worked for many years in the seafood department at Kroger in Grove City, sharing New Orleans recipes and giving out samples. It was there that she met her second husband, Jack Bowen, whom she married on December 7, 1998, and who predeceased her in 2016.
She is also preceded in death by her eight sisters and one brother, Catherine Edwards, Alice Pritchard, Isabelle O’Connor, Littie Lee Baum, Patricia Leidenheimer, Edna Otis, Phyllis Sevilla, Viola Burke, and James Burke and many other dear family members including her mother-in-law Mary Koldys and several brothers- and sisters-in-law. She is survived by her four children, Joseph Koldys, Mary (Bob) Fidler, Anna (Kirk Hobson-Garcia) Koldys, and Rebecca (James) Randle; two sisters, Joan (James) Skwirsk and Carol Brenan; three grandchildren, Isabella Randle, Kaleb Hobson-Garcia and Evan Randle; three step-grandchildren, Curt (Jamie), Cory (Barbara) Fidler, and Bobby Fidler; four step-great-grandchildren (Karlie, Madilyn, Opal and Colton Fidler); and many other dear nieces, nephews, and other family members and friends.
Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Columbus, Ohio (www.edwardsfuneralservice.com). In keeping with Geri’s wishes, a celebration of her life will take place in New Orleans next year. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).
The family wishes to thank the dedicated staff at Meadow Grove and Mount Carmel Hospice in Grove City, Ohio for their loving care of Geri. We would especially like to mention Cory, Tina, Kelly, Stephanie, Christina and Gayle as well as Dr. Santa-Emma, Beth, Crista and Mary.
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