Amber Marie Koter was a beautiful woman who was smart, generous, faithful, selfless, loyal, and unapologetically committed to family. Born on September 30, 1976 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania to Eric Koter and Sharon Struble, Amber was a spirited and kind child who was curious about life and people.
When Amber was 7 years old, her family expanded and she was gifted with Maria, who believed Amber to be a cherished blessing. Maria became her mother and brought Amber’s sister to the relationship. Amber was in love and began the journey of being a big sister, first to Adrienne, and then later to her baby brother Alex.
As a big sister, Amber was compassionate and understanding. She and Adrienne loved to laugh and dance together, with Dirty Dancing being their favorite movie. With her younger brother Alex, Amber was fiercely protective. Even as their relationship was marked with silliness, Alex and Amber shared a deep, loving bond. She was an encouraging presence in the lives of her siblings and when asked to describe their sister, they shared that “Amber was simply amazing”.
Amber graduated from Hempfield High School in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1995 and went on to become a proud Nittany Lion as a student at Penn State University. While in college, Amber joined Theta Phi Alpha Sorority and was inducted into the Golden Key National Honor Society. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and Teaching in 1999.
During her time at Penn State, Amber met Michael Puline of Erie, Pennsylvania and they began dating their sophomore year in college. Michael recalls being drawn to her beautiful blue eyes and her personality. They fell in love and after leaving Penn State, began their life together, first in Pittsburgh and then moving on to New York, and ending up in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004. Michael and Amber married that year.
This chapter in Atlanta became one of the most fulfilling times in Amber’s life. She was hired to work at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and served in a variety of positions over 13 years, including as the Digital Media Director, Director of Children and Family Ministry, and Director of Intergenerational Ministry. Amber and Michael were active members of Redeemer and loved this congregation and its people.
In September 2007, Michael and Amber welcomed their first son Lorenzo Jesse into this world. Her experience as a first-time mother led her to become an advocate for maternal mental health. After her pregnancy and the first years of Lorenzo’s life, Amber became highly involved in the Postpartum Depression community. She began blogging about her experience and was a key contributor to the first and largest online community that supported new mothers, Postpartum Progress. As she continued to recognize the needs in the maternal mental health community, Amber partnered with Mental Health America of Georgia and organized the first and eventually longest-running postpartum support group in Atlanta.
In May 2011, Michael and Amber welcomed the birth of their second son, Leonardo Gable and their family was now complete. This family of four grew together as they made Atlanta their home. Their life included so many friends and family, vacations, musical concerts, sporting events, and time by the water. Amber loved the outdoors, being at the beach, and dancing. She adored her family and they adored her.
Throughout the years, Amber’s empathy, compassion, and wisdom helped countless people. She was a prolific writer who continued to uplift the cause of maternal mental health. Her childhood curiosity blossomed into a love of learning and connecting with people of diverse backgrounds.
Amber never met a stranger and her gifts of hospitality were unmatched. She contained multitudes, and whether it was watching Mad Men, listening to Steely Dan, cheering for her beloved Steelers or jamming out to 90’s R & B, Amber was able to engage all sorts of people and make them feel seen, known, and loved. Her deepest desire was to make the world a better place.
On October 24, 2020, Amber’s body departed the earthly realm and her spirit was forever embedded in the lives of those who loved her. As she said her final goodbye, she was surrounded by her sister Adrienne, her mothers’ Maria and Sharon, and her father Eric.
Amber is survived by her sons, Lorenzo and Leonardo, and their father, Michael; her parents, Sharon, Maria, and Eric; her siblings, Adrienne (Matt) and Alex (Jenn); niece Bayleigh, and nephews Tyler, Mason, and Brady; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Memorial Services will be privately held. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to invite you to donate to either of these organizations in Amber’s name:
Mental Health America of Georgia - https://www.mhageorgia.org/donate/
Postpartum Support International - https://www.postpartum.net/donate/
Cards for Amber’s sons and family can be mailed to:
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
c/o Sarah Hawbecker
731 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
Learn more about Amber’s work in this area here - https://www.webmd.com/depression/video/dealing-with-postpartum-depression and read writings by her on the topic of Postpartum Depression here - https://postpartumprogress.com/?s=Amber+Koter-Puline.