Couple marries at Iowa River Hospice to share day with dying grandfather

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS — Quinton and Maddie Ward married at Iowa River Hospice on Feb. 26 so her grandfather Roger Bauder could officiate. He passed away the next morning.

It takes a village to coordinate a last-minute wedding, and in the case of Madeline and Quinton Ward, it also took a hospice house. The couple wed at Iowa River Hospice on Monday, February 26 so her grandfather Roger Bauder could officiate.

“I wanted our favorite person — my grandfather — to marry us,” Maddie said. “We were blessed to have lots of family and close friends at his side.”

The previous Friday, the family had learned that Roger, who battled liver cancer, was in renal failure. They knew the ceremony would need to be bumped up from its original date in September so Roger could be part of it. The next day, the necessary certificate was secured for him to marry the pair, with the idea of having the nuptials on Saturday, March 2.

But by Monday, doctors at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames said it was unlikely he would live to the end of the week.

His daughter, and Maddie’s mother, Dawn Diser, said Roger’s kidney function dropped to 15 percent and the decision was made to transfer him to Iowa River Hospice later in the day.

Seth Diser helps his grandfather Roger Bauder prepare for the wedding ceremony.

Meanwhile, Quinton’s mother Paula sprang into action. Iowa has a three-day waiting period to wed unless extraneous circumstances can be proven to speed up the process.

“There was no sitting judge in Marshall County or Tama County. So Paula found a judge in Polk County that would be sitting at the bench from 2 to 4 p.m. that Monday — that was the only judge in Central Iowa,” Dawn said. “They explained grandpa was dying and was supposed to marry them.”

That got the judge’s attention, and the three-day waiting period was waived. They next rushed to the Polk County Courthouse to obtain the license and made their way back to Marshalltown.

Staff at Iowa River Hospice worked to obtain a wedding cake, champagne and goblets. Applebee’s donated sandwiches and wraps.

Volunteer Coordinator/Community Liaison Pamela Wells said this was the first wedding in the 40-year history of Iowa River Hospice.

“It was so incredible. Everyone who was working that day stepped up,” she said. “We felt honored to be able to provide that for them.”

Roger arrived around 4 p.m. and the wedding took place at 5:30 p.m. A group of 20 people gathered in his suite while grandson Seth Diser helped Roger prepare to conduct the ceremony. The couple used the cake topper from Dawn’s parents’ wedding day 57 years earlier. Her off-the-rack wedding dress — still in need of some alterations — was picked up from Dawn’s home and taken to the hospice house.

“My dad did the whole entire thing. He was his normal self. He was having great conversations with friends and family who came in. It was like I had walked into his house,” Dawn recalled of her dad’s spirits that day.

Quinton’s hunting dog Goose, a black lab, also got to be included.

Wells noted that Iowa River Hospice gave Roger doilies made from quilts he was then able to present to the newlyweds as a gift.

“They say hope, faith, love and joy,” Wells said. “They’re the size of a mouse pad.”

After the brief ceremony, loved ones, including Roger’s brother George, gathered in his room into the evening hours.

“He told everybody ‘I’m just really tired right now. I’m going to sleep for a little bit and I’ll just see you guys tomorrow.’ That was pretty much the last conversation we had with him,” Dawn said. “He was able to fulfill that last wish to see his first granddaughter marry.”

Roger Bauder, age 78, died the next morning. He was a member of the First Methodist Church, Marshall Masonic Lodge AF & AM 108, Mizpha Chapter 26 (Huron), Boy Scouts of America, Order of the Arrow and served as assistant scoutmaster of BSA troop #317.

“No one knew it was going to be that fast. When I got to work the next day, he was gone,” Wells said. “He was a wonderful man.”

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marlene, son Scot (Stephanie) and daughter Dawn (Noel) Diser and grandchildren including Emmett, Madeline, Seth, Cassidy and Nicole.

The couple will have a second wedding ceremony, as planned, in September.

“Pam just made it a special day for the two of them and was able to make it so my dad could be apart of it. They went above and beyond. They were able to take the saddest memories and wrap them with happy memories for us,” Dawn said. “They have an incredibly hard job. I don’t know how they do it day in, day out. It takes a special person.”


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