Gladys Lewis, 94, of Charles City, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the Muse-Norris Hospice Unit in Mason City, after an arduous ten year struggle with chronic pancreatitis. Per Gladys’ wishes, a private graveside service will occur at a later date. “No person ever died who had a family,” Ray Bradbury wrote, and few people were as selflessly devoted to their family as Gladys was. She was born Gladys Velma Ward in Mason City on Dec. 18, 1921, to William and Ada (Simon) Ward. After graduating from Mason City High School in 1940, she briefly attended the LaJames beauty college. A mutual friend introduced her to Robert Walker Lewis; they were married in Waseca, Minn., in Feb. 1941.
After living in Alameda, Calif. during the war, Gladys and Robert returned to the Midwest. In 1946, Robert found work at Salsbury Laboratories, and the couple settled into their home on Third Avenue in Charles City. Their home proved to be a great place to raise kids. Open fields and woods were close by, and the sounds of children’s laughter filtered over from Lincoln Elementary School, just a block away, which all six of their children would attend. Gladys would continue to live there for the next seven decades. The neighborhood changed in many ways — neighbors passed on or moved, and new neighbors replaced them. Gladys became friends with many. She remembered them all with fondness, and kept in touch when she could.
Gladys was gifted with a sunny personality and an even temperament, which made her an exemplary mother. A bad day, when she “didn’t accomplish anything,” was a rare occurrence. She was happiest when immersed in daily tasks, and she best enjoyed getting outdoors to work on planting her flowers. She loved to remember popular songs from her youth: Bossa Nova tunes and singers like Andy Williams and Jack Jones. The personality Gladys held in greatest admiration was Eleanor Roosevelt, and she remained interested in current events. She loved to follow The Rachel Maddow Show for political news, but she watched other TV shows like Gunsmoke, Lawrence Welk, and Bonanza for nostalgic relief. She was a private person all her life, and her family and personal relationships were always paramount. Children were always her greatest source of joy.
“She loved with a fierce steadiness borne of loyalty, determination, and an unyielding dignity.” Quote by Jill Lepore.
She is survived by all six of her children: sons, Geoff (Ginny) of Logan, N.M., Med and Jamie, both of Charles City, Dan of Marion, and John (Melissa) of Garrett Park, Maryland; daughter Gwen Martin of Ely; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren, all of whom were dear to her.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; two brothers, Jack Ward, and Sherman Ward, and two sisters, Margie Stearns, and Dorothy Rugger.
Memorials may be directed to Hospice of North Iowa.
The family would like to express gratitude to Dr. Frederick Johlin of UIHC for the assistance he provided Gladys, the hospice personnel who gave her their professional and caring attention in her time of need, and her sons, Med and Jamie for caring for Gladys for numerous years.
Please share your support and memories with Gladys’ family on her tribute wall at www.stewartbaxter.com under “Obituaries.”