February 9, 1924 - August 2, 2020 Lila Catherine Gilbert Kuehnert, of Hickory, passed away early Sunday morning, Aug. 2, 2020, comfortably in her home in Bethlehem. Born Feb. 9, 1924, in Catawba County, she was the daughter of the late Frank C. and Mary Virginia Moser Gilbert. In addition to her parents, Lila was preceded in death by her husband, the Rev. Eldor Paul Kuehnert; brothers, Farrell Gilbert, Don Gilbert; brother-in-law, Arlen Kuehnert; sisters-in-law, Virginia Gilbert, Betty Kuehnert; and grandson, Jason Kuehnert. Mrs. Kuehnert was very active and involved during her 96 years. Lila was born Feb. 9, 1924, and raised in Conover. She graduated from Newton-Conover High School from the 11th grade, then North Carolina offered the 12th grade and she graduated a second time. She attended Watts School of Nursing in Durham, for one semester. She returned to Conover and graduated from the former Mebane Business School in Newton. In 1943, at 19, she moved to metro Washington, D.C., to work in the Pentagon during World War II. At the Pentagon she worked for Army Air Corps., Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, as a statistician. During this time, she had the opportunity to personally meet and talk with Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, and Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall. Later, wanting to do more for her country, and remembering Eleanor Roosevelt's words to her "you can also do more " and "you can be whatever you want to be," she joined the Cadet Nursing Corps. As a member of the Cadet Nursing Corps, she worked and trained in Charlotte, as well as on an Indian reservation in central Montana. After World War II, she received her Registered Nursing degree from Charlotte Memorial Hospital (Novant Health). While there she met a young pastor, Eldor P. Kuehnert when she was an obstetrical head nurse in Charlotte. They were married in 1947, in her home church, Concordia Lutheran in Conover. The young couple moved to Raleigh, where Mrs. Kuehnert was a private duty nurse from 1948 to 1949, as her husband pastored Our Savior Lutheran (LCMS) Church. One of her patients at the time was Josephus Daniels, former Secretary of the Navy and Ambassador to Mexico. Her first child, Deborah, came along in 1949. In the early 1950s the young family moved to a small dairy farming community in western New York called "Pumpkin Hook" in the township of Farmington, where she and her family lived for over 30 years. In New York, she raised her four children, Deborah, Daniel, Don and David together with her husband who was a volunteer fireman, a VA chaplain, and the minister at St. John's Lutheran (LCMS) next to the parsonage. She was most proud of founding one of the first pre-schools in the Rochester, N.Y. area, St. John's Christian Preschool in Farmington, N.Y., where Lila acted as a director and teacher from 1969 to 1976. The school is still in existence today where she was specially honored on the school's 50th anniversary in 2019. She was a substitute nurse for the Victor Central School District which served their area. Mrs. Kuehnert was co-chairman of the first Victor PTA Scholarship Committee and was on the school district's First Citizens Committee. She was a member of the Victor-Farmington Volunteer Ambulance Corps Board of Directors, the Rochester Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Lutheran Education Association (Department of Early Childhood Education). She was active in local politics, was a town election inspector and was her party's nominee to run for the Farmington Town Board. Lila and her husband Eldor were named Farmington Citizens of the Year for their community service. Lila held numerous positions while a member for over 30 years at St. John's Lutheran Church including Sunday school teacher, member of the Ladies Society, Alter Guild, and treasurer of the Lutheran Woman's Missionary League. For many years, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lila was a part-time journalist, often covering various area town and other local government meetings for area newspapers. In 1985, she and Eldor, who was in semi-retirement, moved south, to assist St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Marion, for a short period, before finally returning to her hometown of Conover, in the late 1980s. There Lila, with her husband, became an active member in the church she grew up in, Concordia Lutheran. She was happy to be reunited with her siblings, Farrell, Bill and Don Gilbert. After her husband, Eldor, died in August of 2003, she moved a short distance to live with her daughter, Deborah, in Bethlehem, where she resided until her recent death. Lila enjoyed socializing and playing cards with friends and family. Up until her last few months, she played cards weekly with her sole surviving brother, Bill Gilbert and Bill's boyhood friend, Richard. They were all in their 90s and were quite a sight when "playing" cards. For those of us fortunate to play with them or watch them play, the conversations kept your attention. Serious. Interesting. Always funny. Mrs. Kuehnert's hope was in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and on her telephone answering machine for many years, she quotes Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." (ESV). Those left to cherish her memory are daughter, Deborah Kuehnert; sons, Judge Daniel Kuehnert (Cynthia), Don Kuehnert (Paulette), David Kuehnert (Annamarie); brother, William Gilbert (Loretta); sister-in-law, Ruby Killian; grandchildren, Hannah Dixon (Bennett), Lawson, Mary Kathryn, John Christian, Lydia, Samuel, Amy, Paul D., David, Tamsyn, Laura Davis (Dennis), Aaron (Kevin), Paul A. (Kathryn); stepgrandson, Derek Allen (Natasha); great-grandchildren, Zoe Finch, Fiona Finch, Destinie Davis, Layla Davis, Maddex Davis, Kasey Davis; great-stepgranddaughters, Lily Allen, Quinn Allen; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. So, while her family and friends are sad that Lila, Sis, Aunt Lila, Mom, and Grandma, is no longer with them in physical form, all can rejoice because this is the day the Lord has made. This same Lord and Creator of all good things now has Lila with Him in peace and comfort, and giving each of us a great hope, a hope in a more meaningful life now, and a grand reunion one day in our heavenly home. A private graveside service will be held at Conover City Cemetery in Conover, with Pastor Michael Geml of Concordia Lutheran Church officiating. A memorial service will be held at a later date. The family would like to thank Joy, Amy and Lauren of Caldwell Hospice for their compassion and caring for Mrs. Kuehnert at her home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Concordia Lutheran Church & Preschool, 216 5th Ave. SE, Conover, NC 28613; or St. John's Lutheran Church & Preschool, 153 Church Ave., Farmington, NY 14425. Drum Funeral Home of Conover www.drumfh-conover.com
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