Margaret Clemmens, 78, formerly of Springdale and Iowa City, died Wednesday, June 28,
2017, at The Gardens Assisted Living Center in Des Moines.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 1, 2017, at the Springdale United
Methodist Church in Springdale, Iowa, with burial to follow at the Pee Dee Cemetery near
Springdale. There will be a reception and time of visitation following the burial services, back at the church. Memorial contributions can be made in Margaret’s memory to any of the following: Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Springdale United Methodist Church, or The River Community Church of Iowa City.
Margaret Eileen Witzel was born November 23, 1938, in Osage, Iowa, the daughter of Arthur
and Esther (O’Brian) Witzel. After she graduated high school in 1957, she moved to Iowa City and started working for State Services for Crippled Children. In 1960 she went roller skating with a friend in Cedar Rapids and met a nice young gentleman who asked her to couple skate. She accepted, and shortly thereafter they were going to movies, eating out together, and taking walks together. On one such walk, Evan picked her a bouquet of lilacs and since that spring in 1961, Evan has tried to make it an annual tradition of picking a bouqet of lilacs for Margaret. Evan and Margaret were engaged on June 24, 1961, and were married on August 31, 1961, at the Coralville United Methodist Church. It’s interesting to note that Margaret always kept very good records and she kept receipts of all of her wedding expenses. The TOTAL cost of their wedding was $248.60!
The first home they lived in was a one-room schoolhouse converted into a residence. It was
behind the Springdale School where Evan was custodian at the time. The second home they
lived in was a two-story farmhouse built in 1900. They bought the house and surrounding 120 acres in 1963. This was a big step for them, as it cost them $30,000. They lived in this home for 42 years and raised their two children (Scott & Lisa) there.
Margaret was always keeping busy. Margaret enjoyed quilting, sewing, tatting, embroidery,
flower pressing, and doing calligraphy. She and Evan also loved gardening and each year they planted a huge garden and Scott and Lisa remember many summers were spent weeding and hoeing in the garden. Margaret would freeze and can her bounteous produce. One summer she froze 99 pints of strawberries. Margaret also was a wonderful cook. Most of Evan & Margaret’s years were spent on the farm and they didn’t have any fast food restaurants nearby, so Margaret was always in the kitchen. She loved baking cookies, baking bread in her breadmaker and holiday get togethers were always a favorite time for her. She always went all out preparing many dishes that her family loved.
Margaret was also a very devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She was always trying to
keep up-to-date on their activities and participated in as many of their concerts as she was able. She was always there for the family in good times and bad. The Clemmens family had many memorable summer vacations together, their favorite destination being Wyoming where they would visit Evan’s cousins on the ranch near Chugwater.
Margaret was very active in the Springdale United Methodist Church. She was a member of
the UMW, Self Culture Club, sang in the church choir and also directed the children’s choir and chancel choir for a time. Margaret had a beautiful voice and sang at many funerals and
weddings. She taught children’s Sunday School classes for 24 years and since she loved
music she liked to play the guitar or autoharp during the song time.
After Scott & Lisa moved away from home, Margaret & Evan belonged to the River Community Church (formerly Bethany Baptist Church.) They enjoyed socializing with the Prime Timers group, participating in Home Bible Study Group, and helping to prepare meals at The Ronald McDonald House on a monthly basis. She also enjoyed the times when church friends would gather at Pastor Gail’s home and sing the Messiah.
Margaret was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1997, and one week after she was
diagnosed, Evan found an ad in the paper looking for persons that were recently diagnosed with PD. They were beginning a Study and Margaret decided to participate in this Study at no cost to them. They were able to travel to Yale University on several occasions and decided to do some sightseeing and visit friends while in the D.C. area. Her physical disabilities prompted Evan to start thinking about building a home for Margaret that was handicapped accessible, so in 2004 they built a home southwest of Iowa City and it was here that they lived out most of their Golden Years. This scenic residence on Phebe Lane was located in a wild prairie setting with plenty of beautiful wild flowers. Margaret’s granddaughters, Sarah and Amanda, recall many fun times at this home, especially in the summer when Grandma would prepare breakfast in the morning and serve it on the large porch area on the front of the house.
In 2013 Evan and Margaret moved to The Gardens Assisted Living in Des Moines to be close to their daughter, Lisa. While there Margaret enjoyed activities including Wii Bowling, Bible Study and the Gardens’ Singers, Margaret liked to spend time on her computer and kept in touch with friends back home through email and Facebook. She also worked tirelessly on the family trees on both sides of the family. In the last year of her life she compiled information to write her own biography and also did this for Evan, Scott & Lisa.
Margaret’s family includes her husband of over 55 years, Evan; their children, Lisa Lewis
(Scott), of Ankeny, and Scott Clemmens (Jill), of Oskaloosa; grandchildren - Sarah & Amanda Lewis, Jeremy (Hannah) Bower, and Jordan Bower; and great grandchildren - Jayana and Brooks Bower. She also has four nieces and four nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, Donna Cashen, Clifford Witzel, Barbara Grinstead, and Frances Witzel.
The family would like to extend a thank to all friends and family who kept in touch with her or
visited her while living at The Gardens. Also, a heartfelt thank you goes to the Hospice nurses who cared for her and the Gardens staff who worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure she was comfortable in her final days.