11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Monday, April 3, 2023
Serenity Funeral and Cremation Services
6202 Michigan Road
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Monday, April 3, 2023
Serenity Funeral and Cremation Services
6202 Michigan Road
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Obituary of Mary Bess Kohrs - Zouvas PHD, M.D.
Mary Bess Kohrs-Zouvas 81, of Indianapolis, passed away peacefully on March 26, 2023. She was born May 3, 1941 in Gillette, Wyoming (WY) to Ben C. and Allene Kohrs. She was a dynamic, intelligent and creative woman. Mary Bess was a compassionate and caring physician, an angel for many patients blessed to be in her care. She was known as a bright light, always smiling, positive and interested in those around her. She had an indomitable spirit. Her love of Jesus was the cornerstone for her life and everything she did. Mary Bess Kohrs Zouvas, a native of Wyoming, graduated valedictorian from Douglas (WY) High School in 1959 and from the University of WY (U of WY) in 1963 with honors. Upon completion of a dietetic internship with the Veteran’s Administration in Houston, TX, she returned to Wyoming as nutritionist for the WY School Lunch Program. Subsequently, she completed a Master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition at Colorado State U in 1967 and PhD in Nutritional Sciences at U Wisconsin, Madison in 1973. Dr. Kohrs-Zouvas was a researcher and educator at Lincoln U in Jefferson City, Missouri and U of Illinois in Chicago. The pioneering research of Dr. Kohrs Zouvas and her colleagues at Lincoln University documented the special nutritional needs of the elderly and nutritional benefits of a congregate meal program (eg., Meals on Wheels). It was these data and her testimony in Congress that supported funding of the elderly congregate meal programs. Dr. Kohrs-Zouvas completed an MD degree at the U of Illinois at Chicago in 1987 and three years in an Internal Medicine and Primary Care Residency. She is a Board-Certified Nutrition Physician Specialist and Diplomat in the American Academy of Pain Management. As a physician, she worked in rural medical emergency rooms. Subsequently, she was the Medical Director for Chiropractic Clinics. In this capacity, she was a leader in integrating medicine, pain management and nutrition expertise into compassionate care of patients. During the last nine years of her life (until 80 years of age), she was a leader in providing medical care through Telehealth. She was designated one of the top physicians in the US (2007, 2008) by the Consumer Research Council of America. In 2021, she was recognized as an ‘Outstanding Telehealth MD’ by Doximitry, a professional medical network for physicians and the largest community of healthcare professionals in the country. She was a writer at heart, authoring 55 research papers even before medical school, along with six chapters in books and 82 abstracts. Recently, she captured inspiring stories of many medical miracles in her own life for the book God, Medicine and Miracles, which she was completing at the time of her passing. Mary Bess was an active participant in Bible Study Fellowship International since 1997 and Aglo International, an intercessory prayer group for the world. She attended Traders Point Christian Church, Whitestown, IN. Through a political internship in WY during college years, she developed a keen interest in politics. Mary Bess was a member of the Daughters of American Colonists (DAC) and the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR). She joined the Chi Omega sorority at the U of WY. Mary Bess was preceded in death by her husband, Christos Zouvas and her niece, Renee Allene Rickard. Survivors include a sister, Karyl Allene Rickard (Eugene) of Indianapolis; nephew, Mark Rickard (Rorie) and their children Rachel Renee and Peter Mark of Midland, Michigan; brother Ben L Kohrs (Debbie) of Gage, OK; niece, Jenica Kohrs Long (Lonnie) and their children: Isaac, Lauren and Greta of Shattuck, OK. The funeral services will be April 3, 1 pm at Serenity Funeral Home, 6202 Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46268. Visitation will be from 11 am to 1 pm prior to the service. Burial will be in Washington Park North Cemetery immediately after the service. The thing that makes me smile the most is thinking of Mary Bess joining Jesus, her husband, our parents and my daughter, Renee, in heaven. What a reunion! Thanks for coming. I am Mary Bess’s younger sister and happy to share a celebration of her life with you. I welcome our younger brother, Ben Kohrs who is here from OK and will be giving the sermon later in the program. Romans 12:10…10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. THIS IS MARY BESS…. I will share about • the early days of Mary Bess’s life, • then Mary Bess as a physician and, • finally, Mary Bess as a wife and beyond. Early days of Mary Bess’s life In the early days of Mary Bess’s life, she was very ill. In the first grade, these illnesses were so major that her doctor did not recommend Mary Bess going to school. She had whooping cough, pneumonia and asthma. Mother rose to the task of home schooling although it was unknown in those days. Mary Bess passed the exams for first grade with flying colors and continued the next two years in public school. You may not know that we grew up on a ranch in Wyoming. When Mary Bess was in the fourth grade, our family moved to our ranch near Douglas Wy. People often ask me, “What is a ranch?” It is like a farm only many more acres of rangeland for feeding beef cattle and sheep, and, in our case, irrigated land that raised crops for harvest. It was a lot of hard work for our family! Since we did not have electricity nor running water, Mary Bess spent that first year on the ranch with Grandmother Loomis who lived in a town where there was running water. Boy was I glad when we got indoor plumbing and a toilet! I was 8 years old then. Mary Bess said, “Grandmother Loomis was a lot of fun. She let me take ballet classes and learn to cook – fry bacon.” Grandmother Loomis introduced Mary Bess to Jesus as her Savior. According to Mary Bess, they went to sleep each night listening to sermons on the radio. This began a faith that served her well as she continued a miraculous young life and career journey. Growing up on the ranch, we did a lot of things together. We all participated in 4-H projects – livestock, foods, clothing, home improvement and home beautification projects. Mary Bess, back on the ranch, began 4-H with foods and clothing projects as well as sheep projects. Her first Registered Columbia ewe was named Daisy; Daisy’s lamb was named Barney. Barney won championship ribbons at the WY State Fair both in the 4-H class and the open class. That was unheard of – a 4-Her winning championships over long time Columbia breeders. Sheep have a very special place in our lives because they were such a part of our family. We knew the truth of the scriptures in John 10:27: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Indeed, sheep do know their owners’ voice. Mary Bess, Ben and I each had our own flock of sheep. Mary Bess’s sheep knew her voice; my sheep knew my voice and Ben, his. They did not respond well to anyone else. Mary Bess also loved and excelled in sewing projects. Little did she know that later in medical school, her skillful sewing of wounds would be acknowledged in her surgical rotation. Asthma continued to have a major impact on Mary Bess’s life but it didn’t slow her down. It was Mary Bess’s indomitable spirit that allowed her to do all the 4-H projects, complete rigorous science classes in high school and become valedictorian. During her college years, she continued in the advanced science classes seriously considering becoming an engineer or a physician. In those days, women were not encouraged to enter these fields, so she entered the field of dietetics, a science-based profession. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree and a dietetic internship, she worked as a state nutritionist in WY. After practicing a short time, she pursued her master’s and a doctorate in nutrition sciences and then worked professionally in nutrition research. But the dream of being a physician continued. By the way, our parents had a history that impacted us. They were committed to education, especially higher education. Daddy had a college degree in Agriculture. Mother paved the way in her family with a college degree in Home Economics despite her father’s belief that women did not need a college education. Now, let’s talk about Mary Bess as a physician and beyond. It does my heart good to know that my sister pursued her dreams. Against all odds, she was accepted into medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago, a woman over 40 years of age with a PhD. She completed Medical School and became a MD. As you probably know, most doctors do not have extensive background in nutrition. So she was head and shoulders above others when they started their practices in medicine. Her choice of specializing in internal medicine was a good mix with her background. As a physician, she had several roles – internal medicine clinics, rural emergency medicine and for 25 years she was Medical Director for Chiropractic Clinics. She was certified in pain management – unusual expertise for a MD. I am expecting that none of you have been Mary Bess’s patient. Mary Bess was different from many physicians. She cared, was intuitive, knew just what was needed and in a winsome way, provided medical care. When I was growing up, I had no clue she would be so good at listening. Mary Bess always had a positive, optimistic attitude and would greet you with a big smile. Don’t you wish every doctor would be that way. In later years, Mary Bess was the perfect telehealth doctor with her background in internal medicine, emergency rooms and pain management with chiropractors. Amazingly, Mary Bess worked until she was 80 years old, actively participating in telehealth. My sister was a doctor but it just pleases me so much that she was honored as being an excellent doctor. I can’t remember all the recognitions she got but I know my conclusion is solid. Just recently, she was recognized nationally by ‘Call a Doc’ for her telehealth work. Now let’s talk about Mary Bess as a wife After medical school, Mary Bess married the love of her life, Chris Zouvas. He was a realtor, had a great sense of humor and was a gourmet cook! His Thanksgiving and Easter feasts were fabulous. Our family was always invited to share these celebrations. I had never seen a whole lamb served as it was at their home. Shortly after her husband’s death, Mary Bess moved from the Chicago area to the Indianapolis area near us. When she moved to Indy, we were reacquainted this time as grown sisters. She was a ‘best friend!’ I think Mary Bess would be the poster child for ‘life long learning’. She found seminars, workshops and lectures that provided a great breadth and depth to her life experience. She was an ongoing participant for years in Bible Study Fellowship. She pursued a variety of other topics such as alternative medicine, leadership, wisdom, communication, energy regeneration and advances in nutrition. She was an avid fan of Juice Plus, both the freeze-dried fruit, veggies and berries and the tower gardens. Her favorite books were Joel Rosenberg’s high action, fiction thrillers that shared prophecy related to the Middle East. These books kept her mind active and alert. In all these, she used her upbeat personality and her analytical mind to make a difference in those around her. Recently, when we cleared Mary Bess apartment, we found favorite scriptures and prayers throughout. Finding these emphasized again to us how much she depended upon a personal, vibrant relationship with Jesus. In reflecting, I want to give credit to my parents for helping her be responsible with her medical conditions from day 1, never allowing her personal medical issues to be a deterrent as she was growing up. If I were to ask her, “How can you do all these things?” She would say, “I can’t without the Lord’s help.” Mary Bess and I have lived close together for more than 15 years. I knew that one day I might have to write her obituary so I decided to ask her what she wanted in it. For the most part, the obituary is what she dictated. That was a wonderful gift to me. I encourage you to do that for your family! In summary, Mary Bess is an incredible inspiration to me. She lived daily with Jesus as the cornerstone of her life. She loved the field of medicine and made a difference in many, many lives through her skills and career. She is a shining star! The Lord is saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
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