Tonja A. Koeppel

October 2, 1920 ~ November 3, 2021 (age 101)


Tonja A. Koeppel passed away peacefully on November 3, 2021 in Houston at the age of 101. She was born on October 2, 1920 in Chur, Switzerland. She earned a master’s degree in organic Chemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 1944. She married Fred A. Koeppel, a mechanical engineer and ETH graduate, and settled in Thun, Switzerland, where their two daughters were born. In 1952, the family moved to Canada and lived in Shawinigan Falls, Quebec and later in Kingston, Ontario. They returned to Switzerland briefly, before emigrating to the United States. In 1957, they moved to Fairfield, CT and finally settled in Pine Beach, NJ in 1962. Early in her career, Tonja worked as a freelance science writer. She later taught chemistry at Ocean County College for over 20 years and was an active member of the American Chemical Society. In 1973, she earned a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1996, a few years after Fred died, Tonja moved to Houston to be near family. She enrolled in the Continuing Education Program at Rice University to study creative writing with Venkatesh Kulkarni, which helped her make the transition from science to fiction writer. She published three novels: Astral Twin, Secrets of Adamant House, and The Bell File.

Tonja leaves behind a legacy as a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother as well as an accomplished chemist, educator, writer, and pianist. Tonja is survived by her daughter Vera Koeppel Ducruet and husband Jean Patrick; daughter Barbara Koeppel Tennant and husband David; her grandchildren Alexander Ducruet and wife Tricia, Andrew Ducruet and wife Kelly, Mark Ducruet and wife Bethany, Chris Brown and wife Divya, Hilary Tyson and husband Warren, Catherine Halka and husband Charles; her step-grandchildren Christen Tennant, Culberson (Cole) Tennant, Hoyt Brown and wife Teresa and their children and grandchildren, Marlin Brown and wife Joey and their children; and her great-grandchildren Oliver, Peter, Louis, Adelina, Milana, Jack, Finn, Paloma, and Britton.

A funeral mass is planned for noon on Saturday, December 4, 2021 at St. Anne Catholic Church, 2140 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX. Contributions in memory of Tonja may be made to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston or the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Funeral Mass
December 4, 2021

12:00 PM
St. Anne Catholic Church
2140 Westheimer Road
Houston, Texas 77098

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