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Hesser, Karen K. (1947-2020)

HESSER, PURVIS, KUHLMAN, RANEY, DITTMER, PETERSON, LANEVILLE, HOLTEEN

Posted By: Paul Nagy (email)
Date: 4/19/2021 at 17:23:26

Karen K. Hesser
September 25, 1947 - October 24, 2020

Karen K. Hesser, age 73, of Boone, passed away on Saturday, October 24, 2020, at her home after her fight with cancer.

Karen Kay (Purvis) Hesser was born September 25, 1947, in Iowa Falls, Iowa to Harold and Mildred (Ascher) Purvis. She graduated from Iowa Falls High School in 1965. After earning an associate degree from Ellsworth Junior College in 1967, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Northern Iowa in 1969.

After dating him in high school, Karen married Eugene "Gene" Hesser in 1968. Karen joined Gene at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina, just after her college graduation. There, in North Carolina, Karen began her teaching career, teaching in Havelock, North Carolina, during the first year of desegregation in the state. This moment in time shaped the respect and acceptance she embraced throughout her life. The Hesserís eventually moved to Pella, Iowa, where Karen taught English and sponsored her first cheerleading team.

During the summer of 1974, Karen and then-husband, Gene, embarked on an epic summer road trip with an old high school friend and his wife. The two couples drove a VW van intending to head north to Alaska and looping back down the west coast over six months. The Hesserís never made it to the west coast. Instead, they called their parents in Iowa asking them to put their belongings in storage while they stayed in Alaska. They lived in a tent for 79 days in the Alaskan wilderness before eventually settling in Delta Junction, Alaska where Karen taught English, Journalism, Speech, and Drama, and co-founded The Delta Paper. While in Alaska, their daughter, Dana Rose, was born in Fairbanks. When Dana was eight months old, wanting to be closer to family, the Hesserís decided to move back to the lower states, settling in Forest City, Iowa, where their son, Brendan Joseph, was born in 1980.

In 1984, Karen accepted a teaching position at Boone High School (BHS) and the family moved to Boone, Iowa, where they raised their family and where Karen established her home in the community. While at BHS, Karen taught English Lit, World Lit, and American Lit, coached cheerleading and volunteered for countless events. In 1992, she completed her Masterís in Education alongside two friends and fellow teachers. After retiring in 2010, Karen remained a big part of the Boone Schools community, volunteering at athletic events and continuing to substitute teach until 2020.

Always a teacher, Karen had a profound impact on her studentsí lives: empowering them, supporting them, and always believing in their potential. She mentored many young teachers without ever giving up on a student, friend, family member, or her children. Karen traveled the world and opened countless studentsí minds to the vast world around them as a Delegation Leader in People to People for over 10 years. Moreover, she taught Lamaze classes for over 25 years in both Forest City and Boone, often welcoming former students and educating them in another phase of their lives. She loved to read, dance, sing, and laugh. She loved the classics, Shakespeare, and The Beatles. Forever an Iowa girl, she loved the outdoors and wildflowers, preferring to be in nature than be inside, something instilled in her while playing in creeks and the woods growing up in Iowa Falls. She had many lifelong friendships and valued connecting with others. Most of all, however, she loved her family. She enjoyed nothing more than laughing with her sisters and her kids. She was an amazingly selfless mother. But her favorite role of all was that of Nana.

An active member of Augustana Lutheran Church for 36 years, Karen had an enduring faith. She belonged to several book clubs over the years as well as to Delta Kappa Gamma and the Lowell Club. She, even, co-authored a cookbook. Always a Toreador, she enjoyed regularly seeing her old friends at the retired teachers get togethers.

Karen was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Mildred Purvis; her stepmother, Josephine Purvis; her parents-in-law, Joe and Shirley Hesser; her brother-in-law, Ron Kuhlman; her sister-in-law, Shelley Raney; her niece, Jaime Dittmer; and nephew, Ken Kuhlman. She is survived by her daughter, Dana (Scott) Peterson; her son, Brendan Hesser; her sisters, Barbara Kuhlman and Debbra (Don) Laneville; her grandsons, Johnathan "Gage" Holteen and Christian Hesser; her granddaughter, AvaRose Hesser; five nieces; three nephews; and their children; as well as her great-nieces and great-nephews.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Schroeder-Reimers Memorial Chapel at Sixth and Marshall Streets in Boone. Online condolences may be left to Karen's family at https://www.schroedermemorialchapel.com/. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Karen Hesser Family, C/O Schroeder-Reimers Memorial Chapel, P.O. Box 15, Boone, Iowa 50036.

Friends may call from 4:00 until 7:00 P.M. Thursday, October 29, 2020, at the Schroeder-Reimers Memorial Chapel at Sixth and Marshall in Boone. Private graveside services will be held at the Union Cemetery in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

Schroeder-Reimers Memorial Chapel, Boone, Iowa, 2020

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