Tribute to Star Birkeland Asimakoupoulos

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Star Birkeland Asimakoupoulos

1927 — 2019

“Remembering My North Star”

My mother, Star Birkeland Asimakoupoulos, passed away on July 11, 2019 as my brother and I held her hands. She was ninety-two.

Like her name suggests, Star was a shimmering personality whose eyes twinkled with joy. Her presence brightened any room she entered.

It was most appropriate that the street on which she was born in her parents’ home was called Pleasant Avenue. Star danced with a happy disposition her entire life. Even when dementia robbed her of her short-term memory, my little mother—all sixty inches of her—was a source of positivity.

Greg and Star Asimakoupoulos

My mom’s upbeat attitude was based in her love of Jesus. This one who led me to a personal understanding of God’s love when I was a preschooler, began her walk with the Lord as a child. It was a walk she maintained her entire life. It was a walk punctuated by her love of music including many Scandinavian gospel songs found in the Covenant hymnal.

Although memory loss undermined so many of her God-given gifts, she never lost her ability to play the piano or harmonize with me when I would break out into a familiar hymn. The last weeks of her life, she was in a constant state of prayer verbalizing her love of her Savior.

My mom was reared in a pietistic home. Her grandparents in Norway were part of the Bethel Movement, a lay renewal within the Norwegian Lutheran Church that paralleled the 19th century revivals in Sweden. Mom’s parents were charter members of a largely Scandinavian congregation in Seattle.

Personal faith rooted in personal Bible study was at the heart of the Birkeland home. My mom’s brother became a pastor. Her sister married a pastor. After graduating from Bible College at the age of 20, my mom also married a young pastor who had planted a church among the Nez Perce Indians in Idaho.

My mom was the stereotypical old-school pastor’s wife. She played the piano, sang solos, taught Sunday school and led the youth ministry. She also entertained church members in our home. A gifted storyteller, my mom was in demand as a women’s conference speaker. She even had her own radio program for children.

Of all her accomplishments, the one achievement that stands out in my mind is her personal commitment to Christ. It was a commitment that modeled for me an understanding of grace. It was a commitment that helped me hear a call to ministry. This north star in my life truly was my guiding light. I miss her!