Joette M. Pelster, age 71, of Kansas City, MO passed away at her home on November 25, 2022.  A Funeral Service will be held at 10:00 A.M. Thursday, April 6, 2023, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sidney, NE with Father CP Varghese officiating.  Cremation has taken place.  Inurnment will be at the Greenwood Cemetery in Sidney. 

       Friends may view Joette’s Book of Memories, leave condolences, photos and stories at   

          Gehrig-Stitt Chapel & Cremation Service, LLC is in charge of Joette’s care and funeral arrangements.          

Joette was a 1969 graduate of St. Patrick's Academy in Sidney, Nebraska. She completed her undergraduate degree in political science from Creighton University before realizing she wanted to go into theatre. After this realization, Joette spent six months as a research analyst at the Nebraska Legislature, reading 100 plays to catch up before completing two years of graduate work at the University of Nebraska's Theatre Arts program.
          Joette met the love of her life, Richard (Dick) Kurtenbach in Lincoln in 1977 on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature and they were married for 43 wonderful years. They shared their lives with adored feline friends, all named after great authors and literary characters, Oscar, Cheever, Peabody, Duncan, and now Virginia.
         Joette loved stories in books and onstage as well as other performing arts. She treasured her early experiences as a stage manager and enjoyed working with, and had great skill with, numbers.
        Joette's accomplished career included; arts leadership positions in Kansas City at the Folly Theatre, being the very first executive director of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, restoration/reopening of 18th & Vine's GEM Theatre, and most notably, as Executive Director of the Coterie Theatre for 28 years. Under Joette's leadership this non-profit 501c3 rose to impressive new heights. The Coterie not only grew from an annual budget of $600,000 to $1.6 million dollars, Joette helped to secure support from notable foundations including The Shubert Foundation, Menorah Legacy Foundation, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation, Graves Family Foundation, Theatre League, National Endowment for the Arts and Missouri Arts Council. Her leadership has helped to grow the Coterie's reach to over 97,000 people per year, through community partnership programs such as Project Daylight, Reaching the Write Minds and its ground-breaking Dramatic AIDS Education Project, to name a few, coupled with over 350 Coterie performances.
          Always a positive force providing counsel to colleagues during challenging times, Joette was a shining example of grace under pressure and a valued voice in the theatre community who encouraged others to help them find their own success. Dedicated to her family and friends, she was always ready to lend an ear, extend a helping hand or provide a shoulder to cry on. Her sense of humor and infectious laugh were matched by her generous ability to listen, to encourage and love all whose lives intertwined with hers.
          She is survived by her beloved husband Dick, two sisters, whom she adored, Janet Vall, and Judi (Tom) Stefanek; nieces and nephews, Nicole Glow (Tom), and Elizabeth Mosley; grand nieces and nephews Katherine, Henry and Lucy Glow, Parker and Adele Mosley, and Shalon Marie Brown, Joette's 'adopted daughter' who first joined her life through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, as well as many loving friends.

          Joette was preceded in death by her parents, Arthur and Eulalia Pelster.
          In memoriam, the family requests donations go to The Joette Pelster Visionary Fund at The Coterie Theatre to commemorate her legacy as a Kansas City arts visionary. Checks may be made payable to The Coterie Theatre, and addressed to The Coterie Theatre, ATTN: Joette Pelster Visionary Fund, 2450 Grand Blvd. Suite 144, Kansas City MO, 64108, or online at