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Iowa Mourns Dorothy M. Etzen, a 'very special lady'
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Iowa Mourns Dorothy M. Etzen, a 'very special lady'

From the Iowa Mourns: Mason City series
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Dorothy M. Etzen | 1925-2020 | Forest City

When remembering their mother and grandmother, Dorothy Etzen's devotion to her family comes to the minds of loved ones.

Dorothy Benson was born in Forest City in 1925 and spent her entire life there. She met her husband, Ed Etzen, shortly after he returned from the war, and the two married in 1951.

Dorothy’s son, Charles Etzen, recalls his mother as devoted. “I’m the only child, so she pretty much did everything for me,” he said. “In sports, I played football, basketball, baseball, golf, track, and they never missed a game.”

He also said his mother was driven, spending many years working in Forest City insurance agencies and keeping quite busy in her off-time.

“She worked really hard with the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary and sold poppies every year on Main Street,” Charles said. “My dad was a triple Purple Heart (recipient) in World War II, so my mom got involved with the Women’s Legion and did a lot of stuff.”

Dorothy also adored her church, Immanuel Lutheran, and she volunteered for many projects there.

“She never missed a Sunday until she got to the nursing home,” said Charles. “And after that, she’d listen to the service on the radio each week.”

“She was a woman of strong faith,” said granddaughter Heidi Thell. “She instilled that value in my dad, and they (Charles and his wife Barb) proceeded to raise us in the Christian faith. I just cherish that.”

Holidays were also important to Dorothy. “She made a really big deal about holidays,” Thell said. “She had an Easter egg hunt every year at her house, and at Christmas, she’d always make it really special. She made the best potatoes and gravy, hands down, that I’ve ever had in my life.”

Charles said his children were a bright spot in Dorothy’s life. Thell and her siblings, Andrea, Devon and Drew, often spent the night with their grandma. “She’d play games with them,” said Charles. “She really enjoyed that.”

After her husband died in 2008, Dorothy moved to an apartment downtown and held on to her independence until the age of 93, when Charles and his family began to notice a bit of a decline, which they found worrisome.

“She would leave the stove on; she had a couple of falls,” he said.

“She never wanted to leave Forest City,” he added. “We offered to have her come to Arizona to live with us, but she was happy where she was and didn’t want to leave her siblings.”

Ultimately, Dorothy left her apartment to live at Forest City's Good Samaritan Care Center. Charles said she really enjoyed her new environment, welcoming visitors and socializing with fellow residents.

On Aug. 31, at the age of 94, Dorothy passed away in her sleep due to complications of COVID-19.

“She was always smiling; she had the sweetest giggle,” said Heidi. “She was absolutely a very special lady.”

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Lisa Grouette is a Photographer and Reporter for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at 641-421-0525 or lisa.grouette@globegazette.comFollow Lisa on Twitter @LisaGrouette

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