Aja passed away surrounded by family and friends at her home on the sunny afternoon of Thursday, March 11th just ten days after her 40th birthday. She left in peace and without any pain. Aja is survived by her husband Ryan; parents Steve and Dede; sisters Brittany (Adam) Hoebelheinrich, Michaela (Raufeon) Stots and Jenna (Adam) LaRose; niece Blythe and nephews Sterling, Clarence and Crosby; parents-in-law Pat and Donna; brothers-in-law Philip (Marcela) and David along with nieces-in-law Isabella and Valentina. All of her family and friends adored and cherished her immensely.
Aja was highly intelligent, insightfully thoughtful, genuinely compassionate and eternally optimistic. She was a voracious reader (outpacing even her father), avid knitter (with a vast wool skein collection), world-traveler (with Central American mission trips, semesters in Pamplona, Spain and Peace Corps service in Uzbekistan) adventurer (including fly fishing, rock climbing and rowing) and volunteer at numerous local organizations. Dr. Kneip Pelster was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s School of Health and Kinesiology and education was her true calling. Throughout her years she was a passionate teacher, dedicated mentor and inspirational role model to hundreds and her legacy will continue through all of her students and those that they will serve throughout the field of Public Health.
We are eternally grateful for the compassionate and extraordinary care of her oncological team at Immanuel Hospital throughout the years that became a second family to us. She faced her cancer diagnoses and treatments with a dignity and strength that was a testament to the bravery that she possessed. We also thank the VNA’s hospice that allowed her to leave this world on her own terms and in comfort.