Obituary of Charlotte Stoltzfus
We sadly announce the passing of Charlotte Marie Stoltzfus, who died at the age of 82 at the Bird House hospice facility in Iowa City surrounded by family. Charlotte was born in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 18, 1940. She was raised by her great uncle and aunt, Frederick and Josefina Kivisto, and grew up in the town of Eagle River in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. The Ferne and Lester Brook family helped take care of Charlotte while Fred and Fina worked during the day, and she became an important part of their family, both before and after her beloved adoptive parents’ deaths when she was just 18. The Brooks and their children – Ilene, Vay and Leonard – as well as her parents and Eagle River’s Finnish community provided lasting models for family life. Charlotte recalled getting together every other Saturday night for traditional saunas. Charlotte worked at a women’s apparel retailer in Eagle River for several years after graduating from Eagle River High School in 1958. She became a women’s fashion buyer for large department store Gano-Downs after moving to Denver, Colorado, in 1962, taking buying trips to New York City, California and elsewhere. Charlotte met Martin (Marty), her husband of 57 years, on a fortuitous blind date while he was working at Colorado General Hospital and finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado-Boulder. They married in 1965 at First Mennonite Church in Denver, and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1966, where Marty pursued his Ph.D. Their first child Katharine was born two years later. The family moved to Montclair, New Jersey, in 1972, welcoming son Mark in 1973. The family then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where Marty joined the microbiology faculty at Vanderbilt University. While in Nashville, Charlotte developed early symptoms of the progressive disease of multiple sclerosis, a condition she battled with positive energy and determined cheerfulness the rest of her life. In 1979, the family moved to Iowa City where Marty joined the faculty in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Iowa. Charlotte and Marty became members of First Mennonite Church of Iowa City. She was involved in English classes for wives of foreign students, participated in flower arranging for church services and was a member of the Worship Commission for several years. One of her monthly highlights was meeting with other members of a book club started at the church. Many of her closest church friendships were made there. Over the years, she and Marty enjoyed traveling to many places around the world: chasing total solar eclipses on six continents, traveling to scientific conventions, visiting friends and family members overseas, and even spending six months in Melbourne, Australia. Among the long list of places they visited were China, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, the UK and Scotland, Libya, Egypt and various Pacific islands, including American Samoa and Fiji. Charlotte was an upbeat, optimistic person with a brilliant smile, who approached everyone as a friend-to-be. Her attitude helped her cope with the ravages of MS; no matter how she felt inside, and despite increasing disability, she always radiated warmth to all in her presence and expressed gratitude to the many who helped her along the way. She loved plants, flowers and all things green, and spent much time in her flower gardens. Even when very disabled, she continued to work on new indoor and outdoor plantings. Charlotte is survived by her husband Marty, of Coralville; daughter Katharine Carlon, of Iowa City; son Mark, of Iowa City; granddaughter Alexandra Carlon, of Iowa City and Grinnell; and many friends across the U.S. and the world. A memorial service to celebrate and remember Charlotte’s life is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25 at 4 p.m. at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to either Iowa City Hospice or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.