Dolores A. (Thompson) Wagner

Dolores “Mom” Wagner waved us all goodbye on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. She was 92, the same age that Kenny was when he said goodbye on March 7, 2018.

Due to Covid-19 precautions, a private service for Dolores will be held just for immediate family. Graveside interment will occur at the Corwith Cemetery where Dolores will be laid to rest next to Kenny. The family is planning a full celebration of life for Dolores next summer. Stay tuned. Mom would want it that way. In lieu of flowers, monetary memorials can be made to the Dolores Wagner Memorial Fund. Checks can be sent to Ramona Stewart, 635 SE Peachtree Drive, Waukee, IA., 50263. Memorials will be divided among Dolores’s favorite charities.

Dolores Ann Thompson (Wagner) was born in Aurora, Illinois on October 22, 1928 to the proud parents of Agnes and LuVerne Thompson. They later moved to Kanawha, Iowa where they took up farming and Dolores attended school. After graduating high school, Dolores married her sweetheart, Kenny Wagner from Corwith, Iowa, on November 17, 1946. They farmed near Corwith until they retired in 1996, and then moved to Kanawha where they enjoyed many years together hosting family and friends alike.

Mom Wagner was the most unselfish person you would ever meet. She determined in her early years that what gave her the most pleasure in life was providing for those she loved. From the time she first laid eyes on Kenny in high school until she said goodbye to him more than 70 years later, she never lost that joy, and she never skipped a beat.

Speaking of skipping, Mom and Dad did it to their favorite big bands many times over the years. Their footprints surely still exist on the dance floors of some of northern Iowa’s greatest dance halls, including the Surf Ballroom, the Duncan Community Ballroom, and the Bancroft Dance Hall. When it came to the two-step, they were the King and Queen.

In between the dancing and the many hot meals and taking care of five kids (Vicki, the twins Dave and Dan, Tim and Moni) Mom somehow found time to also be a farmer, not just a farmer’s wife. She always enjoyed spending time in her garden with a big straw hat and long sleeved shirt (had to protect that beautiful Scandinavian skin), dressing and freezing 100 chickens in one day, and also walking beans with the entire family.

But it was in her kitchen where Dolores was truly a Queen. Just like her mother Agnes’s kitchen, love came out of the oven 365 days a year. From her homemade pot roast to her meat loaf to her pies, cookies and cinnamon rolls (all from scratch), the warmth from Dolores’s kitchen could surely relieve any sadness or ailment. But there was one dish that made Mom Wagner legendary – her potato salad. At family and friends gatherings where many scrumptious dishes were on the menu, one could be guaranteed that Mom’s potato salad would be entirely consumed. In fact, if you didn’t indulge on the first helping, you missed out. And when you asked Mom for the recipe, she simply said, “Oh, it’s just in my head.”

During an era of women rightfully claiming their place in society, Dolores didn’t flinch. “You damn right” she once said. She never considered herself second to her husband. Rather, she was a partner and Kenny knew it, and treated her as such. He took special pleasure when, on a crisp fall afternoon while combining corn on the quarter section, he’d see the love of his life pull into the field with the pickup, and in the warm cab Dolores would greet him with a hot cup of coffee and a fresh homemade cinnamon roll. Still, she wasn’t afraid to get on the tractor, run the corn picker, and haul loads of harvested corn to town. Nor was she afraid to speak her mind when it came to issues of the day, exercising her right to vote, or even call her Senator if she needed to do so.

Most who knew Dolores, particularly her family from the kids all the way to the great-grandkids, understood that she was one strong woman. She took charge in her own quiet way, and managed when she needed too. Without question. Literally. Not that you were afraid to question her direction. Rather, you knew she was right. You understood. End of discussion.

It was that strength that enabled Dolores to endure multiple tragedies. When a car accident took her only sibling, her beloved sister Virginia Merriam in 1972, she held strong. A decade later when Alzheimer’s disease consumed her parents, LuVerne and Agnes Thompson, she took control because she had to. Thirty years later when cancer took her first child and beloved daughter Vicki Moore, Dolores, the woman who rarely used foul language, quietly said, “This is the shits. My kids aren’t supposed to go before me.”

Finally when the love of her life, the father of her kids, her corn-picking farmer-husband who lovingly said, “Hey Freckles!” the first time he saw her … it was when he left her side that Dolores waivered. It became the biggest challenge to her heart and spirit yet. Still, she carried on, enjoying her friends, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, reading her favorite novels, staying up on current affairs, cross stitching kitchen towels for her family, going for walks, and driving herself to the grocery store and doctor appointments.

At the culmination of a life well-lived, we rightfully bid Mom adieu.  Off she goes to take that hot Thermos of coffee to Dad so he can finish combining that quarter section of good Iowa corn. Afterwards, they will celebrate at the kitchen table by sharing a cold beer, ruminating on the day, and planning their next trip to the dance floor.

Mom, we love you forever. Enjoy the dancing.

Dolores was preceded in death by her parents, Agnes and LuVerne Thompson, her sister Virginia Merriam, her granddaughter Paula Wagner, her oldest child and daughter Vicki Moore, her husband of 71 years Kenneth Wagner, and son-in-law Smoke Stewart.

Dolores is survived by her four children Dave (Vicki) Wagner, Dan (Vicki) Wagner, Tim (Shawna) Wagner, Ramona Stewart; son-in-law Andy Moore; 11 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and all who she loved to the moon and back.