Iola M. Petersen

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Iola M. Petersen, 83, passed away Friday, July 27, at Briarwood Healthcare Center in Iowa City, Iowa.

She was born on the family farm near Elkader, Iowa, to Rudy and Dorothy (Orr) Kainz and was the third eldest of 10 children. Iola had an early love of learning and she was allowed to accompany her older sister to school at the tender age of four, where she could often be found on the teacher’s lap absorbing it all. 

That love of learning turned into a passion for teaching. Iola attended the Iowa State Teachers College, where she majored in mathematics and minored in physics. There she also met the love of her life Dale F. Petersen. 

Fate threw them together on the first day of classes and it was the beginning of a truly beautiful love story! Dale and Iola were married on June 14, 1958, at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Elkader, Iowa. They spent 60 amazing years together. Iola taught mathematics at South East Junior High and West High School in Iowa City. She also coached girls’ basketball at South East for several years. 

Iola was loved by many and will be remembered for her kindness, her sunny smile and her devotion to sharing knowledge. Iola always lived life to the fullest and instilled that desire in her children and grandchildren. 

Dale and Iola have four children, Cynthia, Deanna, Thomas and Andrew. They also have 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Iola truly loved the country life, and in 1974, she and Dale purchased the original farm her Great Grandfather and Grandfather settled on when they immigrated to the U.S. from Austria. It was one of her favorite places to be all of her life. 

Iola was preceded in death by her parents Rudy and Dorothy, her older sister Erma, and her infant brother David Matthew who died at birth. 

The Petersen Family would like to extend gratitude to the staff at Briarwood for the loving attention given to Iola (Ginger) for the last two years, and to Iowa City Hospice for their guidance.

Funeral services will be held Friday, Aug. 3, at St Mary’s Catholic Church 228 E. Jefferson St., at 10 a.m., with burial to follow at Oakland Cemetery 1000 Brown St. in Iowa City. The family will greet guests at Gay and Ciha Funeral Home 2720 Muscatine Ave Iowa City from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 2. A memorial fund has been established in her memory, contributions may be left at the funeral home, church, or mailed to her husband Dale. To share a memory, thought or condolence please visit the funeral home website at


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