Edith Luise (Koelsch) Kirkpatrick


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Edith Luise “Edie Wee” Koelsch was born July 23, 1908 in Manhattan, New York, to William Frederick Havemeyer and Anna “Ann” (Rider) Koelsch. The name “Edie Wee” came from her sister Muriel Wilma’s best attempts to say her younger sister’s name.

Edie Wee lived in New York much of her life, her family moving to Dobbs Ferry 1922. She then entered Jackson College for Women, a school affiliated with Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Later she attended John Murray Anderson-Robert Milton Dramatic School in 1928, the same year as Bette Davis enrolled.

Edie Wee met Elmer E. “Kirk” Kirkpatrick, Jr. in 1926 while he was a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The couple married on June 15, 1929 at Dobbs Ferry Presbyterian Church.

Patricia Spencer was born on June 24, 1930 at Fort Sam Houston where Elmer was stationed. In June 1931, the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Kirk attended The Carnegie Institute of Technology, receiving a degree in Civil Engineering.

Between July 1932 to November 1933, the young Kirkpatrick family would move to Arkansas, Kentucky before finally returning to New York. In the summer of 1936, the family moved to Philadelphia where Kirk attended the Quartermaster School.

Edie Wee’s mother, Ann Koelsch died in December 1936. When Kirk was assigned to Fort Dupont, the family would move to Delaware. On October 20, 1938, Edie Wee and Kirk’s second child, William Terry, was born at Walter Reed in Washington, D. C. After Delaware, Kirk was appointed to become Area Engineer for the Atlantic Sector of the Panama Canal Zone. The family sailed for Panama in August 1939. They lived in an apartment at France Field and later moved to a house that Kirk built at Fort Randolph on Margarita Island.

In May 1940, Edie Wee took the family to Dobbs Ferry to live in her parents’ home while Kirk recovered in a Washington D.C. hospital. Later, Kirk and Edie Wee would purchase their first home located on Floral Street in Washington, D.C. where Kirk was assigned construction for war preparation.

In the days following December 7, 1941, Edie Wee and the family remained in Washington where Edie Wee volunteered in the Thorastic Surgery ward at Walter Reed. In October 1942, her father William F. Koelsch died after a long illness.

In the Fall of 1942, Kirk transferred to the Corps of Engineers, and the family moved to White Fish Bay, Wisconsin. The next spring, When her husband was assigned to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to begin construction of the Alaska-Canada highway, Edie Wee returned to Dobbs Ferry with Patricia and Terry, where they lived with her sister’s family until Christmas before returning to their home on Floral Street in Washington, D.C.

In 1944, Edie Wee and the children travelled to Edmonton. The family remained in Canada through most of the summer while Kirk spent the majority of his time in Whitehorse, Yukon. In August 1944, Kirk was reassigned to Washington D.C. and the Manhattan Project. He, Edie Wee and the children drove through Wyoming and Green Mountain Falls, Colorado before returning to Washington.

Edie Wee and the family remained in Washington for the duration of the war as Kirk commuted by plane between his office in D.C. and the many sites related to the Manhattan Project. After the war, Kirk was assigned to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the family moved there. In March 1947, Kirk was again sent to West Point, and the family moved into quarters there. Edie Wee and Kirk saw Patricia finish high school in Highland Falls in 1948 and enter Syracuse University that fall.

In July 1949 Kirk was reassigned to Washington D.C. and Edie Wee moved the family to a house on Edmonds Street near the Naval Observatory. The summer of 1950 the family travelled overseas on a month long vacation that included England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, and France.

In June 1952, Kirk left for Korea and later Japan for a new assignment. The summer of 1953, Edie Wee and Terry crossed the United States by train to San Francisco and then crossed the Pacific Ocean on an Army troop transport to Japan. The family first lived in an apartment on Pershing Heights in Tokyo and later moved to Camp Sagami. Edie Wee hosted the families of many of the Japanese contractors with whom her husband worked alongside. In February 1955, the family departed for the United States, first flying to Hong Kong, and then sailing on the SS Asia through the Suez Canal before going to Genoa, Italy. When the family returned to New York, they eventually drove to Jacksonville, Florida where Kirk became the Jacksonville District Engineer.

In June 1957, Edie Wee and Kirk drove their son to West Point to enter the United States Military Academy and then flew to Livorno, Italy, where Kirk was assigned. In November 1958, Kirk retired from the Army, but the family remained in Florida where Kirk held an Assistant Professor position at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

In 1960, Edie Wee and Kirk moved into a new home built on Lake Santa Fe in Melrose, Florida. Edie Wee spent much of the day in her gardens and swimming in the lake. After Kirk retired, the couple traveled frequently boarding small freighters destined all over the world. Back home, Edie Wee’s children recalled their mother loving the rodeo and always coaxing Kirk to visit his family in Oklahoma City during the National Finals Rodeo.

Edie Wee was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1981. She and Kirk moved to Wesley Manor in Jacksonville, Florida.. Edie Wee died on August 15, 1982. Part of her ashes were scattered from their dock at the house on Melrose Bay. The remainder were buried at the West Point cemetery, later to be joined by her husband’s, when he passed away in 1990.