Nakoa Therese (Guffey) Wodjenski unexpectedly passed away in her Puyallup, Washington home on October 19, 2023. Koa, as she was known to family and friends, was 41.
Koa was born October 1, 1982 in Grand Coulee, Washington to mother Kelley and father Cedric (Chip). She was proud of her Native American heritage – Caddo Tribe from her father and Skagit Tribe from her mother. Her mother named her Nakoa, which means “Morning Eagle”.
She moved to Port Townsend at age 5, growing up there and graduating from Port Townsend High School in 2000. She spent her younger years in school, hanging out with her mom, spending time with friends, camping, and going to area lakes.
As a child she had a special bond with her maternal grandmother, Judy Guffey. She spent every summer with “Mean Grandma” – a pet name all her grandkids used – fishing and going to their cabin in Republic, Washington.
Koa and Chris Wodjenski met while Port Townsend High School students. They began dating when she was 15 and he 16 years old. On September 4, 2010, they were married in Puyallup. As high school sweethearts and later husband and wife, Koa and Chris shared 25 years together at the time of her passing.
Children were Koa’s special passion. As a teen one of her first jobs was childcare. Kids and their parents loved her back just as much. While working with toddlers and younger kids in daycare centers, she was honored twice by her employer as “Teacher of the Year.” Later she graduated from training as a Dental Assistant. She worked as an oral surgeon assistant in Graham- and Spanaway-area dental practices.
Her favorite job was when she could be a stay-at-home mom to son Ryan Joseph Wodjenski born in 2008, and daughter Nakiyah Jo’Kell Wodjenski, born in 2020. Her unbounded, unreserved love for children grew even more for her own children. They were her world.
Family and long-time friends remember Koa as having embodied so many admirable characteristics in one person. They describe her with words like kind, considerate, overly giving, never judgmental, embodied what a true friend is, true and unconditional love, true to herself and others, and a joy to be with. They said that if you knew Koa, you knew you had a true friend.
In her too-short life, Koa touched so many hearts. An enduring memory by all who knew her is her bright, twinkling eyes and big smile, eclipsed only by an even bigger hug when you entered her home or she yours. Hearts are heavy that she is gone, but her loved ones’ lives remain warmed by their memories of life with her.
Koa is survived by: her husband, Christopher Wodjenski, son Ryan (age 15), and daughter Nakiyah (age 3), all of Puyallup; parents Kelley Guffey and Mark Sydnor of Port Townsend and Cedric (Chip) and Pam Edmonds of Omak, Washington; brothers Marcus (Heather) Sydnor of Port Orchard, Washington; Rodney Sydnor of Phoenix, Arizona; Tony Wilson, Elk, Washington; and Sean Edmonds; sister Shania Edmonds, Omak; numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins; father-in-law Larry Mund; mother-in-law Joan Wodjenski; and sister of her heart and best friend since sixth grade, Hannah Green of Tacoma, Washington.
Memorial services are being provided by Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood, Washington. Koa’s mother is planning a celebration of Koa’s life on November 18, 2023, in Port Townsend. A remembrance of Koa’s life will also be held at the Puyallup Tribal Youth Center in Tacoma on December 9, 2023. A GoFundMe campaign has been created at https://gofund.me/a6df7002 to help assist with expenses at this time. Any donations in excess of the family’s current needs will be placed into a secure account for Ryan’s and Nakiyah’s futures.