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Alice Marie Lightning Koenigs, June 3, 1942 • March 6, 2023

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With her family by her side, Alice Marie Lightning Koenigs, entered eternal rest March 6, 2023, at Scandi Haven Village Memory Care Unit. She had been a resident there since March 15, 2021.

Visitation was 5-7 p.m., with a Rosary at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 10, 2023, at St. Francis Catholic Church in Benson. Visitation resumed from 9:30-10:30, followed by the Mass of Christian burial at 10:30, Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the church. Interment will be held at a later date. Fr. Jeremy Kucera officiated.

Marie was born June 3, 1942, the fifth child to Hans and Alice Lightning, in Warroad, Minnesota.  She graduated from Warroad High School and was the first of her family to attend college.  She began her college career at Ottuma Heights in Iowa.  In 1966, Marie gave birth to a baby girl and made the difficult decision to give her up for adoption.  A few years later, she graduated from Bemidji State College where she earned a B.S. in Education in 1969.  While at Bemidji State, she met the love of her life, Noel “Chuck” Koenigs, and they were married June 7, 1969.   Chuck and Marie moved to Benson in 1970 and were honored to call Benson their home and blessed to raise their three children together as Benson Braves.  In 1998, Marie was reunited with her daughter, Cathy, and her circle was complete.

Throughout her lifetime, Marie was a teacher, small business owner, volunteer, avid speaker and Bible study co-leader.   She served as a Head Start teacher on the Red Lake Indian reservation; a substitute teacher for Early Childhood and Family Life Education, pre-school teacher, and teacher for Junior High Basic Skills for 10 years all in Benson.  She was also the owner and operator of Wigfield’s Department Store in Benson from 1985 to 1989.  She was active in the Zetetic Study Club, Benson Friends of the Library Board and the Rice Memorial Hospice Advisory Board.  She volunteered for many organizations notably the SCBHS Meal on Wheels Program for 16 years, as Girl Friday for Bugs and Flowers, as an emergency foster parent for the Swift County Humane Society and was an avid speaker on her Ojibwe Native American culture for most of her life. She was an active member of St. Francis Area Faith Community serving as a lector and co-led several Bible study groups over the years.

In addition to the many hats she wore, Marie was a member of a couple’s Bridge Club and a loyal member of Faithfully Fit at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church. She enjoyed hosting garage sales while doning an apron with a pair of scissors attached.   Marie also spent her time knitting and crocheting, reading, and cheering on her hometown Warroad Warriors and Benson Braves.  When not attending and participating in Ojibwe powwows, her time was spent completing many Native American craft projects, notably beadwork. She crafted her daughter’s wedding dress from 10 donated deer hides and beaded the belt with 48,000 seed beads. Hand-made baby moccasins were among her favorite items to make.

Marie loved no one more than her family.  She poured her life into them and served them with a joyful spirit, constant encouragement and listening ear.  She modeled humility and was a generous giver.  Marie was a proud mother to Cathy, Luke, Jon and Jenny and an even prouder grandmother of four grandchildren, Austin, Eliza, Olivia and Emma Drew.  She was also a surrogate mother to many BHS students across multiple generations.  Marie was a faithful conduit of love to all around her and encouraged others in a quiet and unassuming way.  Her warm smile, compassionate consolation, quick wit and open porch policy were welcomed and appreciated by her vast friendship network in the Benson community.

Marie is survived by her husband, Noel “Chuck” Koenigs; four children: Cathleen McKenna of Charlotte, North Carolina; Luke Koenigs Lightning (Kimberly) of Minneapolis; Jonathan Lightning Koenigs also of Minneapolis; and Jenny Lorraine Lightning Eberhard (Rand) of Kennesaw, Georgia; grandchildren, Austin, Eliza, Olivia and Emma Drew.

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