Gretchen Zieman Stuhr

Gretchen Zieman Stuhr

Gretchen Zieman Stuhr

Cedar Rapids

Gretchen Zieman Stuhr, 94, died at the Bird House of Iowa City with family by her side on January 7, 2024.

The funeral service will be held at 11:30 AM Saturday, January 20, 2024 at First Lutheran Church, 1000 3rd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA. Visitation will be at 10:30 AM, prior to the service.

Gretchen was born to Elmer and Adaila (Meyer) Zieman in Postville, Iowa on April 21, 1929. She attended Bailey No. 5, a one-room schoolhouse near her parents’ farm. In eighth grade her parents moved to town where she then graduated from Postville High School in 1947. Gretchen chose to continue her education at Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music

Education. While there, her love of music and of musical theater flourished. She was thrilled and honored to play the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. At Cornell she made many lifelong friends and it was there, on a blind date, that she met her husband of sixty years, John H. “Jack” Stuhr. They were married on August 19, 1950 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Postville. After their marriage, they made their home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Gretchen taught music and directed musical programs at Arthur Elementary School until she began having children. She later taught at Polk Elementary and retired from teaching in 1979.

Gretchen and Jack had four children: Kristin (Dennis) Barnes of Minnetonka, MN, Tracy (Robin Walenta) of Solon, John (Amy) of Portland OR, and Mary (Jim) Yellen of New York, NY.

She loved music in almost all its forms, whether ridiculous or elevated, operetta or oratorio, popular or classical. She played the piano and played it well for most of her life. As a part of a recorder group (mostly Renaissance and baroque), she gigged into her eighties, playing both alto and bass. She loved, loved, loved to dance.

Gretchen loved to play other things besides instruments, including golf, tennis, bridge, and Mah Jongg. She wasn’t very fond of cooking, but she could make a mean batch of peanut clusters. She had a deep and abiding place in her heart for dark chocolate.

She was a member of First Lutheran Church for over seventy years and sang in the choir for many of them. Gretchen’s faith was intrinsic to her character. Her enduring community involvement included children’s theatre and puppet theatre, the Monday League, various duplicate bridge groups, Tourist Club, the Cedar Rapids Country Club, and the Junior League of Cedar Rapids.

She was an accomplished needlewoman and credited needlepoint for helping her manage the ordeal of chemotherapy when she was in her fifties. She possessed an informed sense of fashion and design and did modeling for area organizations and department stores. She could and would restore almost anything, from a kitchen chair to a baby grand piano to her scratched Honda Accord.

Gretchen faced several major health obstacles with grace, fortitude, and good humor – to say nothing of determination. She was an attentive caregiver to her husband in his final years. She loved twining plants and the old-fashioned farm flowers that her mother had grown. She loved children and dancing and the color yellow. But she loved her family most of all.

Gretchen is survived by her four children, their spouses, and her deeply cherished grandchildren Bethany (Brian) Connelly, Jordan (Tom) Haag, Claire (Sam Reiser), Sam, and Henry “Huck” Stuhr, and Quinten and Caden Yellen – and six great-grandchildren.

Preceding her in death were her husband, Jack; her parents, her sister, Leeone Deering and her two brothers, Lyle Zieman and Robert Hall Zieman (died in infancy).

Our family’s warm thanks are extended to the Bird House and particularly to the Essence of Life hospice staff, whose quiet, tender, and conscientious care enveloped Gretchen in the final weeks of her life.

Gretchen deeded her body to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Essence of Life Hospice (606 39th Ave PO Box 333 Amana, IA 52203) or to The Bird House Hospice Home (8 Lime Kiln Lane NE, Iowa City, IA 52240).

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