Gwendolyn LaVonne Sheeley
- November 17, 2022
Gwendolyn LaVonne Sheeley
Gwendolyn LaVonne Sheeley, a/k/a “Direction Giver,” passed away Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at The Bird House following a long illness. Her family wishes to thank Iowa City Hospice and the amazing Bird House staff for the loving care Gwen received during her last days.
Per Gwen’s wishes, no services are planned at this time. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to The Bird House, 8 Lime Kiln Ln. NE, Iowa City, IA 52240 or the Coralville Parks and Recreation Department.
Gwen was born to Dorothy (Christensen) Haugen and I.G. Haugen on Feb. 13, 1937, in Buffalo Center, Iowa. She grew up in Burlington, Iowa, and graduated from Burlington High School in 1955. Gwen attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she met Stu Sheeley (an English major and budding poet). Gwen and Stu were married on Aug. 17, 1957, in Burlington, Iowa, and had two sons, Bryan and Matthew.
Gwen and Stu moved to Coralville, Iowa, in 1970 where Gwen served as the Assistant Director of Coralville Parks and Recreation for more than 30 years. Gwen’s impact on the City and the legacy she leaves behind is undeniable. She was the brainchild for the “Music in the Park” concerts that Coralville residents have enjoyed for 30 years. The City’s annual Christmas light display on the one-mile stretch of Highway 6 from Rocky Shore Drive to First Avenue is the result of Gwen’s vision and innovation. She was the creative genius behind a number of special events, including “Super Bowl Sundae,” the “Harvest Moon Festival,” the “Olympic Torch Parade,” and “Kids Art in the Park.” Gwen developed a number of marketing campaigns that forever improved the quality of life for Coralville residents, including “Dig it Now, Love it Later” and “A Classy Strip is Worth the Trip.” Gwen also created “Recycle Rex,” the mascot for the City’s recycling program. Gwen’s dedication and service to the City of Coralville remains unparalleled.
Gwen loved dogs and practically anything and everything sports-related. She loved a good vodka martini while sitting on the porch; sometimes two. She was an avid Bridge player, Cribbage player and never cheated at Gin Rummy. She was a devoted wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, aunt, mother-in-law, dog-sitter and friend.
Gwen is survived by her two sons; two sisters, Beverly (Haugen) Williams of Abilene, Texas, and Mary Lou (Haugen) Meuler of Richardson, Texas, two daughters-in-law, Jean [Wass] Sheeley of Mesa, Ariz., and Anne [Bunz] Sheeley of Grimes, Iowa; four grandchildren, Sarah, Samantha, Maille and Will, a great-grandson, and countless nieces and nephews who loved “Aunt Gwen.”
Gwen was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Stu, and her sister Karen (Haugen) Wilson.