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Jean W. Tyler

Jean W. Tyler passed away on July 22, 2020 at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, just shy of her 98thbirthday. She was born in Spirit Lake, Iowa on July 30, 1922, the daughter of George and Ethel Trowbridge. The family settled in Stuart, Iowa, in 1926 and that is where Jean, along with her beloved sister, Betty, and brother, Jim, grew up.

From a very early age, words, poetry, and literature fascinated her. She was always an avid reader. She had a capacious and agile memory which propelled her to the national stage in 1936 as that year’s National Spelling champion. She was a living dictionary for her children, always ready with not only the correct spelling of a word, but also primary, secondary and tertiary meanings and pronunciations. She was the family’s literary and historical repository, often peppering a conversation with a recitation of a poem, lines from Shakespeare, or recounts of family and historical events, as well as the names of every congressman or government official she read about or saw on TV and the policies they stood for.

She grew up deeply curious about the events unfolding around her, both local and national. Her mantra was ‘Be an informed citizen of the world. If something is happening in the world, learn about it’. Life in rural Iowa in the 1920s and 30s was a hardscrabble one. As a young person she was deeply affected by the Great Depression and approaching war and she developed an ethic of personal integrity, sensitivity for the ‘common man’ and sympathy for those in need. She was a proud, life-long, FDR Democrat.

She earned her BA in journalism at the University of Iowa in 1946. She was a prodigious letter writer. She blessed her family and friends with her graceful, carefully composed, clever letters. She delighted family and friends with limericks and saucy political poems which showcased her witty, wry view on life.

Jean was dedicated to her family. In 1946, she married Donald Tyler (of Villisca, Iowa), who had a long career as an internist, practicing medicine in Fort Dodge (from 1954-1972) and Marshalltown, Iowa (from 1972-1984). For 71 years, they were close, loving partners until Don died in 2018. They reared four children, David, Andrea, Stephen and Lissa. Jean and Don loved taking long walks in the countryside, observing birds and identifying native plants. Together with Don, Jean created many graceful, friendly flower gardens. In her final years, one of her most treasured activities was watching humming birds, finches and quail from her window. Jean loved to laugh and tell family stories. Her children received her loving advice and support through difficult times as well as triumphal ones.

She is survived by all of her four children, their spouses, seven grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren. A granddaughter, Vanessa, died in infancy. She developed close ties with her grandchildren, who as youngsters loved to spend time at Grandma’s house, where they felt surrounded by her warm, gentle spirit. She maintained those ties until her final days through her wonderful letters. She also kept close ties with her niece, Rene Hoy and nephew, George Trowbridge. They continued to visit and phone her until her final days.

Jean was guided by the importance of valuing others. She was an active member of PEO, worked on refugee support, and delivered Meals on Wheels. With Don, she was a long-time member of the Methodist Church.

Thank you to The Commons assisted living facility and the medical personnel at Community and St. Mary’s Hospital for quality care that both Jean and Don received. Donations, in memory of Jean W. Tyler, may be made to Hope West Hospice, 3090 B, North 12thStreet, 81506 or 1stUnited Methodist Church, 522 White Avenue, 81501. A family memorial will be held in next year.