Hughes, Kristin 1974-2021 West Des Moines, Iowa | Obituary
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Kristin (Ekdahl) Hughes, 46, the beloved wife of Chris, incredible actress, artist and craftsman, passed away suddenly at their home in West Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
Kristin had a brilliant mind, infinite curiosity, a burning desire to learn, a kind, humble and generous spirit, and a fearless approach to trying new ventures and adventures. She was a devoted wife, loving daughter and sister, caring daughter-in-law, reliable friend and fierce protector of the abused and she will be dearly missed.
She was born October 28, 1974 in Neenah, Wisconsin, and graduated from Neenah High School in 1991. After high school, she auditioned and was accepted into the American Musical and Dramatics Academy (AMDA). She has appeared in over 100 theater productions including Godspell, Fiddler on the Roof and Sunday in the Park With George. Her fearless approach to life became evident when she traveled to New York City on her own to pursue a career in musical theater at the age of 20 with more dreams than certainties.
She appeared as the Reverend Mother in an off-Broadway production of Nunsense! and in several other musicals. She thought she might have unknowingly bumped into her future husband, who also resided in New York City and frequented the same streets in the East Village.
To find her husband, she had to move to Wisconsin and become an Internet pioneer, meeting him on Yahoo! in 1999. Their first date, a few weeks later in September, went from lunch to a book sale to a cafe to a park to a movie and never really ended. A few days later, they would realize that they had completely forgotten to eat dinner. They got engaged around midnight on January 1, 2000, with fireworks in the background. Neither of them remembered the words of the proposal or whether Kristin had ever officially answered “yes”.
They were married on October 14, 2000 in Appleton, Wisconsin. Five months later they flew to Hamburg, Germany for three months and then to the United Kingdom, where they would reside in Chester, England, near the Welsh border for the next three years. Kristin enjoyed spending the weekends there driving through the rolling, narrow, sheep-cluttered lanes of the Welsh countryside.
During their stay in Europe, they traveled to 17 countries. Visit the sheer cliffs of Santorini, Greece; food tasting from street vendors in Istanbul; watch artists work in Piazza Navona in Rome; walk in the Nyhavn of Copenhagen; and take a tour of 18 Scottish castles and woolen mills from coast to coast in the car that could hardly be among his favorites. She will always be grateful to the people of Lockerbie, Scotland, who came to the rescue with a car repair in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to get them back on time on their last flight home to the United States. .
After returning to the United States, she and her husband resided in Wind Lake, Wisconsin, where Kristin loved to spoil their cats Jasper and Hermione, listen to the cackling of cranes that frequented a backyard pond and eagerly awaited them. seed catalogs each spring. They built huge planters and grew enough watermelons, tomatoes, peas, beans, herbs and cucumbers to feed an army. They also grew pumpkins, to be marinated with a recipe they had picked up in Tallinn, Estonia.
After Wisconsin, they lived in Huntsville, Alabama, where Kristin became one of the first administrators of LibriVox.org, a website dedicated to turning public domain literary works into audiobooks. During her time at LibriVox, Kristin narrated and / or coordinated over 450 recordings, including novels, autobiographies, short stories, dramas and musicals (including The Mikado by Gilbert and Sulivan). When she read the role of Eliza Doolittle for the recording of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, she worked diligently with an old Mr. Cockney to perfect her accent. Kristin was particularly devoted to poetry: in addition to recording the collected works of Edna St. Vincent Millay, she was a long-time poetry coordinator for LibriVox and was especially proud to help beginners set up their audio equipment and facilitate their first attempts. She also narrated a commercial Like Son audiobook by Felicia Luna Lemus for Iambik Audiobooks, provided the voiceover for the animation work, and was a favorite of musicians using spoken words in their compositions. Many of Kristin’s works are available on YouTube, including A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe; Double Double, an animation of Act 4 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with Kristin playing the Second Witch; the clip for Rainy Days by Aurel Bernaschek with a reading of The Rainy Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and Music on the Waters, an interpretation of Lord Byron’s poem Stanzas for Music, composed by Alien Alarms.
Kristin has attended National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) annually and has authored six mystery, fantasy and sci-fi novel manuscripts, totaling 447,294 words during her years of involvement.
While in Huntsville, Kristin planted the first seeds that led to her many passions. She mastered quilting and learned on her own how to knit and crochet blankets, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, slippers, Amigurumi (small stuffed animals with oversized eyes), Christmas decorations, grocery bags and lace doilies. She also appeared in the fall of 2009 in the independent film The Last Summer as “Mother”.
Kristin and her husband lost their cat, Hermione, to illness, but took a stray Glen of Imaal Terrier they named Zelda, after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, and a Maltepoo they named Yukiko, Japanese for “little snow”.
One of the most memorable weeks in Kristin’s life occurred in Huntsville when tornadoes cut power to the city for 10 days. She and her husband ate food in a freezer, then canned food when it ran out; makes Earl Gray coffee and tea on a charcoal grill; played cribbage and Monopoly; and read Flashman novels to each other by candlelight until the power is restored.
The year-round heat and sticky humidity, along with the recurring black snakes on the front porch, brought Kristin and her husband back to the Midwest.
For the past 10 years, Kristin has resided in West Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, their cat, Jasper, and their dogs, Zelda and Yukiko. Kristin flourished in Iowa: she taught herself to paint in watercolors, pastels and acrylics and created hundreds of acrylic castings. She developed an interest in jewelry and metalworking and could often be found on the gas stove spoiling hammered copper braids or on her anvil hammering copper strip decorations. She learned to play the ukulele herself and had just started learning the violin.
An avid reader, Kristin has been enchanted by the novels of Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Peters. She loved music and musicals, especially Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, Ute Lemper, Michael Ball, Marlene Dietrich, Abba, 80’s New Wave, and electronic band VNV Nation. Kander and Ebb, Stephen Sondheim, and classic Irving Berlin musicals, especially Holiday Inn, were all special pleasures.
Kristin collected fountain pens and practiced calligraphy. She wrote three unreleased novels and was starting a trade journal publishing business that would encourage grandparents and parents to pass on their stories. She was interested in genealogy and had traced parts of her family to Switzerland in the 17th century and to Russia in the 18th century. She enjoyed rock hunting, minor music, large bodies of water, cartoons, and listening to the deafening buzz of frogs and insects on summer evenings. Passionate about the history of fashion, she designs and manufactures dresses, pants, vests and other clothing, often with vintage patterns. She took pride in cooking and baking from scratch and often explored pre-depression recipes and the origins of different dishes.
In 2015, they renewed their wedding vows in the Fern Cave along the Wailua River on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Over the past year and a half of working from home, Kristin and her husband have been happily inseparable.
Kristin would encourage everyone to be kind, to be generous, to give people the benefit of the doubt, and not to be mean except to those who are mean (and then be as fierce as possible).
Kristin is survived by her devoted husband, Chris; her parents, Lynn and Robert Ekdahl, Neenah, Wisconsin; brothers, Bob Ekdahl, Jr. (Amy Roe), St. Paul, Minnesota, and Ted Ekdahl, Neenah; mother and stepfather, Ron and Maryann Hughes, St. Joseph; brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Linda Hughes and niece and nephews, Stella, Callaway and Archer, Kansas City, Missouri; aunt, LeAnn (Robert) Jungenberg-Klumb, Adams, Wisconsin; aunt, Vicki (David) Mayefski, Appleton, Wisconsin; uncle, Dr. James (Catherine) Jungenberg, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; aunt, Mary (David) Haertl, Florida; aunt, Lynn (Louis) McKellar, Hortonville, Wisconsin; and many cousins.
Kristin was predeceased by her beloved grandparents, Archie and Jane Jungenberg, and her stepmother, Genevieve Przybylski.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Kristin Hughes (Ekdahl) Memorial Scholarship Fund. Whether it’s providing a room and a home-cooked meal for traveling musicians, helping newbie audiobooks set up their gear, reading beta novels, or teaching an aunt how to crochet. On YouTube, Kristin believed in the importance of art and was always passionate about supporting others in their artistic endeavors. This scholarship will help a student at Neenah High School, Kristin’s Alma Mater, pursue a degree in the performing or creative arts.
Send donations to the Kristin Hughes (Ekdahl) Memorial Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, 230 Ohio Street, Ste 100, Oshkosh, WI 54902. Checks should be made payable to the area Community Foundation Oshkosh with “Kristin Hughes (Ekdahl) Memorial Fund” written on the memo line.
Kristin was a big fan of masking and vaccinations and would like everyone to know that her death was not related to Covid or the vaccine. Please wear your masks and, if you can, get vaccinated. As published in the St. Joseph News-Press.