Richard “Dick” James Warden, 97
Richard “Dick” James Warden passed away on September 15, 2022, at the age of 97, in his hometown of Marshalltown, Iowa. His bright spirit and sense of humor will be missed by many.
Dick was born on September 7, 1925, the firstborn child of Harold and Marie (Grabenbauer) Warden. He was later joined by siblings Bob (Irene) Warden and Phyllis (Chuck) Boston. As a bonus, Dick’s grandmother, Nellie (Cordt) Grabenbauer gave birth to a son, Earl, on July 10, 1925. Nellie’s house was next door to the Warden’s until she had it moved across the street, paying for the new lot with her flock of geese. Dick and his uncle Earl were inseparable in childhood, forming a tight bond that lasted throughout their entire lives.
Nearby Linn Creek laid a natural foundation for Dick’s lifetime love of all things that nature had to offer in Marshall County. The railroad tracks next to the creek were lined with plum trees and berries, which Dick and his grandmother would pick all the way to Quarry, IA. The creek was plentiful with muskrat, mink and beaver for trapping; fish, minnows and crawdads for fishing. Pheasants were so plentiful they were considered a road hazard. Hunting was a rite of passage back then, and at age 14, Dick received his first .410 shotgun. Dick and Earl spent hours fishing and hunting with the older Grabenbauer uncles, Chuck, Paul and Albert. Dick often recounted stories of these childhood adventures with a big smile on his face.
Dick attended Anson Elementary School, where he first met LaVerna McClellan – the love of his life. At that time, Anson school stood at South Street, a dirt road at the city limits. Although he was on the smaller side, Dick was an athlete and played in all sports: football, track, baseball and basketball. During his senior year at Marshalltown High School, he was drafted into the US Navy. He received his diploma when he returned home from WWII.
Dick’s first out-of-state trip was to boot camp in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His next stop was Pennsylvania, to board the new ship USS Yavapai/LST 676, assigned to the Pacific Allied Forces. They soon set sail for Pearl Harbor, China, Korea and Japan, where he witnessed the raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima. Enroute to the Pacific, the ship passed the Panama Canal, which was just being built. Dick was so impressed with its construction that 60 years later he and LaVerna took a cruise to visit the completed canal. After he was discharged from the Navy in 1946, Dick returned to Marshalltown on a doodlebug railway car from Minneapolis and began working at the city water works.
LaVerna McClellan was the catch of Dick’s life, and they were united in marriage on August 20, 1948, at First Evangelical United Brethren Church, which later became Hope United Methodist. Their honeymoon to Okoboji became an annual family trip as their family grew to include three daughters. In retirement they returned to Okoboji every fall, and on one trip, Dick got another catch of his life, a 38-pound muskie! That catch landed him a picture in the local newspaper.
Dick and LaVerna were faithful charter members of Hope United Methodist their entire lives. Dick was a Sunday school teacher and a trustee. He enjoyed working with youth, including youth mission trips, and often led city-wide paint-a-thons sponsored by the church.
After working with local home builder Carroll Olson, Dick started his own electrical business, Warden Electric. He mentored or employed more than 15 electricians in his lifetime and was on the Board of Electrical Examiners. His biggest contributions to Marshalltown building projects were Fisher School and Journey (First Baptist) Church.
Dick was selfless to a fault. He was a loving, kind, forgiving, honest, God loving, family loving man who gave anyone the shirt off his back. He will be missed beyond measure by his daughters: Karen Milan and Janet (Merve) Minde; grandchildren: Annette Mayfield, Jeff (Becky) Bogard, Matt (Danielle) Minde, Cori Milan, and Chelsea Milan; Great grandchild: Mickey (Kate) McDonald.
In Christian faith, he is reunited with many, many friends and family who have gone before him in his life of 97 years: his wife, LaVerna; daughter, Kristy Warden; great grandson, Kristian McDonald; parents, brother and sister; Grabenbauer and Cordt families; and his McClellan family, Alva and Vada and all of their siblings.
The family wishes to thank Accura Health Care for their kind attention and care for Dick, and to St. Croix Hospice staff, who helped Dick on this, his last journey on earth. Memorial contributions may be directed to the family for later designation to Marshall County Wildlife Conservation or to Hope UMC.
Funeral services for Dick will be held on Friday, September 23 at 11:00 A.M. at Hope United Methodist Church in Marshalltown, with a visitation one-hour prior. Immediately following the service, he will be laid to rest at Rose Hill Cemetery, followed by a lunch reception at Izaak Walton League, 2601 Smith Ave. At Dick’s request, please wear blue jeans or comfortable attire. For those unable to attend, the service will be available on the funeral home website.
Dick’s obituary was lovingly written by Karen Milan and Sherri McClellan Kuhn.
Mitchell Family Funeral Home is entrusted with the care of Dick and his family. For condolences or questions, please visit www.mitchellfh.com or call 641 844-1234.