Lou Ann Jane (Russ) Van Gerpen, age 85, of Garner, Iowa, passed away peacefully surrounded by her children and other family members on June 7, 2022, at the Concord Care Center in Garner, Iowa.
A memorial service was held June 11, 2022, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Forest City with Pastor Rod Hopp officiating.
A gathering of friends and family was held June 10, 2022 at Schott Funeral Home, 505 North Clark St., Forest City, Iowa 50436.
Inurnment of cremains was held in Madison Township Cemetery.
Lou Ann Jane Russ was born Aug. 18, 1936, in Rake, Iowa, the eldest child of Oscar M. and Lillian C. (Thompson) Russ. She was brought into the world by her paternal grandfather Dr. J.E. Russ. Lou Ann was baptized and confirmed at Liberty Lutheran Church in Rake. She attended Rake Community School, where she graduated in 1954. When she was 14 years old, she met the love of her life, Peter Van Gerpen. After graduating from Rake High School, Lou Ann attended Luther College during the 1954-55 academic year. She then returned to Rake where she married Pete at Liberty Lutheran Church on July 17, 1955.
Lou Ann and Pete made their home on a farm one mile east of Rake, where they raised their four children, milked a herd of 35 cows, and enjoyed their life together. They became active members of Zion Lutheran Church in Rake where Lou Ann was involved in the Ladies Aid organization, attended Bible study, completed the two-year Bethel Series training course, and served the congregation as a Bethel Series teacher. Lou Ann and Pete enjoyed attending all of their children’s school activities. They loved traveling, eventually visiting all 50 states and taking a trip to Germany, Belgium, France, and England. They also had fun cruising the Caribbean and Alaskan waters and boating with their family on Clear Lake. They were sports fans and especially enjoyed watching the Hawkeyes, Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves. Lou Ann loved music, and as a freelance performer she shared her musical gifts with others. Under the moniker Musical Memories she played her electronic organ for special events and at area malls during the holidays; as always, Pete was by her side, helping her move the organ from their home to each venue and back again.
In 2007 Lou Ann and Pete retired from farming, leaving their home of over 50 years and moving to Garner where they settled in near son Paul and his family. In Garner they made many new friends and enjoyed attending the activities of their grandchildren. Lou Ann and Pete became members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Forest City. During their retirement years Lou Ann became increasingly interested in family history and spent a great deal of time conducting genealogical research and “cemeterying” with Pete. In 2015 Lou Ann lost her life-long partner and soulmate, Pete, after nearly 60 years of marriage.
Lou Ann is survived by her children, Lori (Van Gerpen) Stanley ‘80 (David Stanley ’77) of Decorah, Iowa; Michael (Stephanie) Van Gerpen of Cottage Grove, Minn.; Mary Jo (Van Gerpen) Horner ’81 (Todd Horner ’82) of Logansport, Ind.; and Paul (Traci) Van Gerpen of Garner; seven grandchildren, Kaleb Van Gerpen ’16 of Cottage Grove, Minn.; Lauren Van Gerpen of St. Paul, Minn.; Nichole (John) Miller of Newburgh, Ind.; Kimberly Horner ’11 of Minneapolis; Alexander (fiancée Katie Giles) Van Gerpen of Garner; Tiara (special friend Victor Soupene) Van Gerpen of Coralville, Iowa; Mackenzie (special friend Kevin Boehnke) Van Gerpen of Coralville, Iowa; four sisters-in-law, Irene Russ of Crystal, Minn.; Elaine Boehm of Buffalo Center, Iowa; Lila Hassebrock of Johnston, Iowa; Julienne Van Gerpen of Buffalo Center, Iowa; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Pete; her parents, Oscar Russ and Lillian (Thompson Russ) Johnson; her stepfather, Odin Johnson; her siblings, Ronald Russ and Patricia (Russ) Eastvold; her paternal grandparents, Dr. J.E. and Anna (Ryg) Russ, and paternal step-grandmother Edith (Olson Engelby) Russ; her maternal grandparents, Martin and Esther (Hove) Thompson; and several brothers-in-law. Lou Ann will be greatly missed and remembered as a kind and generous woman who was deeply loved by her family and friends.
The family requests donations be made to Gateway Hospice, Clarion, or Immanuel Lutheran Church, Forest City.