All Saint Stories 2016, St. Boniface

Watch the 2016 All Saints Day Mass video.

Freda Scanlan
Freda Scanlan had a smile that was more like a promise to her husband, each of her children and grandchildren that said, without any words, I love you, I believe in you, I am always, in life and death, for you! This gift is second only to the seed she planted that her family would know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

She was a strong Catholic, she was a defender of the unborn, a defender of anyone in need, she was small in size but the strongest defender of our family.  Her hugs were firm and gentle, compassionate and forgiving.  Her smile told you how much she loved you, how much you meant to her and she would always be there for you.

I will forever be thankful for  the gift of my mom.  She taught me what being a mother is all about.  She had an endless supply of love, a faith in God that ran so deep, a devotion to her family that makes you feel like the luckiest person in the world.  She will continue to live in me and my daughters.

She was a beautiful  wife, wonderful mother and grandmother, and loyal friend.  She was laughter and love.

The family of Freda Scanlan

Bill Degnan
Bill Degnan was born Oct.3, 1961, and was the son of Emmett and Margaret (Eagan) Degnan. He grew up on the family farm near Ayrshire, Iowa. He graduated from Ayrshire High School and Iowa State University and worked for ITS, Inc./Shazam for 25 years.

His greatest love was for his family: his wife, Paddy; son, Bobby (24); and daughters Kelly (21) and Bridget (19).

Bill was diagnosed with ALS on July 31, 2015.  We were devastated.  But since there is no cure or treatments for this horrendous disease, we decided that we would take each day—one at a time.  Bill told our kids this terrible news on August 1st and that same day he loaded up a bed, dressers, boxes, etc. to move our daughter Kelly to her new apartment in Ames! He told the kids that he was going to keep doing as usual until someone tells him he can’t.  That is what he continued to do!

Later in the spring, I asked him what were the things that he was most happy that we had done in the past months.  It was getting our family picture taken on his birthday because he liked looking at it in our home each day—everyone together. The other was going to the ISU tailgates, laughing and hanging out with our kids, their friends, and our friends and family. Bill, at 54, died May 9, 2016, at home in Grimes after a brief battle with ALS.

We miss him every day.

Patricia Degnan, wife

Norman Hammen
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Mae West

Blessed with a gregarious personality, he immediately connected with people, and soon became your friend. Particularly when he was younger, he was anxious to serve both the community and the parish – committed to making a difference. And he did. The world is a better place because of his efforts.

Born as the youngest of a very large rural family, he understood sacrifice and perseverance. And love and family. And in turn, he passed this legacy on to his own very large family. The gift that continues to give.

A man of deep faith, he looked to the church for his foundation. And was prepared for life’s journey when it was time to go. With a wink and a grin, he left this life for a better one. And the world smiled.

Norm’s children

Elva Lego
At the core of Elva’s being was a wealth of love, a need to help others when she could. First and foremost was love of family, always doing what she could for those she loved. She moved here to help with the grandchildren and that she did virtually daily for years until she no longer could. In great pain and distress she would trek off to this or that game, be it soccer, football or basketball. Once a week she would have the family over for dinner. Elva always looked forward to seeing the kids after school.

Elva was a voracious reader throughout her life. She liked to travel and in particular go on cruises. Taking the family to Hawaii after her diagnosis was a highlight for her. She had lived there early in our marriage and wanted to share the experience with the kids.

Elva loved her card groups. It was not so much the cards but the interpersonal relationships. She loved a good many of these people and was loved by them. Toward the end, on her last really functioning day, her poker group took her to the casino where she was queen for a day. Oh, the happiness! There was to be no more.

Elva was an award-winning writer. She loved her years as a newspaper reporter. Her career was cut short by physical disability and family tragedy. She would manage her conditions and do what she could for others.

Her spirit lives on in those she has touched.

Bill Lego, husband

Douglas Short
Douglas Alan Short, October 10, 1946 – January 6, 2016, was an avid fisherman.  Whenever time allowed that’s what he would do and he loved sharing his passion for fishing with his family and friends.

Doug owned and operated a small construction business in the Des Moines area.  Often times we don’t view the work we do every day for a living as work of the Lord, but Doug’s work through Polk County assisting those in need was truly the Lord’s work.  Rather than just doing renovations and repairs for those families, Doug took a real interest in them.  He would follow up with them, run errands for them, take them to the doctor, or even take them fishing.

Doug was kind, giving, and had an amusing sense of humor.  His ability to trust a stranger was a quality we all could learn from.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 29 years, Carol Short; his children, Cathy (Bryan) Corbett, Barb (Victor) Bohnert, and Robb Short; grandchildren, Kyle and Natalie Corbett, Liam Aikin, and Avery, Charlie and Emory Bohnert.

Olga Nizzi
Olga was a strong woman who was always determined to not let anything hold her back.

At the age of 55, Olga decided to get her driver’s license. She was tired of depending on her daughters, Frances and Lillian, and her sister Irma to take her places. She signed up for a driver’s education class at North High School. She faithfully went to each class and passed the course. It was a pretty proud moment for Olga. It was hard to catch her at home after this.

Frances Jamison, daughter

Jo Ann Schaffer
Jo Ann Schaffer was born on June 28 1932. She was the second-born of triplets and the triplets were the youngest of 13 other siblings. Mom inherently learned to cook in quantities, which came in handy since she raised 7 kids of her own. Cooking in quantities also included mass quantities of Christmas candy. After all the kids fledged, her mass quantities of candy went to her pharmacist, the receptionists at her doctor’s office, the tellers where she banked, her mailman and, yes, some found its way to Father Vince. Mom truly never met a stranger and their existence was sweeter for it.

John Schaffer, son

Linda Leibold
Top 10 things that made my mom, Linda Leibold, my ROCK and my ALL to my girls and I:
10.   Her compassion for others.
 9.    She had a great sense of humor.
 8.    Her passion to teach her love of cooking, sewing, and     art.
 7.    She taught me a strong work ethic.
 6.    She was a woman of great integrity.
 5.    Always willing to try new things, learn something new, and keep growing as a person.
 4.    She had great insight and wisdom. 
 3.    Her faith in the Lord was unwavering and deep. She always showed my girls and I the lords greatest commandment…..LOVE.  Unconditional LOVE!
 2.    Taught how important forgiveness is.
 1.    She was the ONLY person that truly understood me and had my back unconditionally.

Mom, my soul still aches to my core every day.  So many great things and huge hurdles have happened and I wish you were here to experience them with me here on earth.
Till we meet again. I love you mamma…

Katie Cross, Daughter

Fritz Sheldon
Fritz Sheldon, 75, died on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at Kavanagh Hospice in Des Moines. Fritz was born on May 13, 1941 in Augsburg, Germany. He came to live in Des Moines with his mother and step-father when he was 7 and graduated from Dowling High School in 1959. He served in the Armed Forces from 1963-1966 and graduated from Drake University in 1969.  Fritz began his career at American Republic Insurance in 1971, retiring as Chief Investment Officer in 2000. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Jeannie; daughter, Alissa Sheldon and numerous relatives and friends.

‘The quality of a man’s life is measured by how deeply he has touched the lives of others.’

Jeannie Sheldon, wife

Don Bringle
Donald Keith Bringle passed away at the VA Hospital on January 6, 2016, leaving behind his wife of 45 years, Kathy, three children, Michael (Jerrie Lynn), David (Tara) and Amy, 7 grandchildren, a brother and two sisters and many, many friends.

He was a true patriot, serving in the Army for 3 years (Vietnam 1 year). He was a Dallas County Veteran’s Commissioner and Waukee VFW Commander for both   during the period of 2012-2015 where he helped many veterans. He spent most of his years in sales, and also owned a grocery store for 9 years.

In his spare time, he enjoyed watching his grandkids play sports, was a loyal fan of Iowa State football/basketball, the Chicago Cubs and Dallas Cowboys. Everywhere he went, he would run into someone he knew and of course remembered that person’s name.

Kathy Bringle, wife

Linda Brewer
Linda was one of those transcendent people who overcame a difficult childhood and seemingly limitless health challenges as an adult. Yet she brought joy to everyone who knew her. She was new to St. Boniface when she passed away on December 27, having joined the parish just eight months earlier.

Naive at times and technology-challenged, Linda always had a way of figuring almost everything out, except how to use the TV remote. She could also be impulsive, like the time I came back from a golf game to find her painting the family room turquoise.

Whatever difficulties the kids or I got ourselves into, she was there with unflinching support, and encouragement, even to the point of taking risks she shouldn’t have. Most of all, she was a loyal loving companion willing to listen and always ready to help.

We miss her kindness, her friendly voice in conversation, her goofy Christmas sweater and dishes and her laugh.

It’s been 10 months since she passed away. It’s been painful for all of us — pain that likely will never go away. But we’re comforted by what she left behind and the fact that she has earned her place with God.

Bill Brewer, husband

Tammy Zenti
Tammy Zenti was a one of a kind daughter, sister, wife, aunt, teacher, and mother.  She wore her heart on her sleeve. She had no idea what the word “No” meant. She loved life to its fullest. You never saw her without a smile on her face or laughing hysterically.

She loved teaching kids and did everything she could to make the students succeed. If you needed her for anything she was right there to help out any way she could. She brought so much happiness to anyone she came in contact with. She always made sure that her family came first before anything else.

We all are going to miss her so much. She has gone to heaven now, which was way too early because she had so much life to live and give. We love and miss you Tammy!

The family of Tammy

Jay Flynn
Jay Flynn was 79 when he passed away in July.  He was a career pharmacist for 42 years.  Jay’s song of life involved three principles: family, faith and service.  He served his church as an active member of the Knights of Columbus and served his beloved City of Clive as a volunteer fireman/EMT for 35 years.

Jay continues to be deeply missed by his wife Karen of 58 years, his four children and his seemingly endless number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.  At the end of Jay’s funeral service he was sent out in style by the City of Clive with a five bell ceremony and a final ride in a firetruck compliments of the Clive Fire Department.  It is what he would have wanted.

Godspeed Dad!  We miss you!

Jay’s Family

Troy Herlein
Troy had a heart of gold.  He cared so much for his family.  He made sure his sisters were well taken care of.  He would protect us.  People would wonder in public when we would go shopping with him.  He was honest by telling us girls what looked good or what didn’t really fit right.  We would just laugh when we would overhear the comments of “boy, he is really telling her that doesn’t look good”.

Troy had a beautiful smile. It lit up the room.

Troy’s home was perfect.  It was clean and everything was always in its place.  He had one item from our grandmother that was always in his bathroom.  It was a pillowcase that he kept folded in such a way that the prayer would be visible to him.  It was hand-stitched by Grandma and said “God grant me the   serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Amy Duder, sister

Nancy Emerson
Mom was a strong woman, who was always true to her convictions.  She was a person who believed in her family, through thick and thin. Mom never fell into the trap of defining “family” using any traditional definition – if you wanted to be included, or if she thought you should be included, you were in.  She was an incredible role model for her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews — the matriarch who showed us every single day what family means, and why it should include a big tent!  She was so strong and so smart, there to support friends and family through the really tough times, to celebrate successes both large and small, and to give you a talking-to if you wallowed too long in self-pity. Her grandkids had no bigger advocate than Grandma Nancy – and usually just at the exact moment in their lives when they really needed her.  We miss her every single day — her laugh, her smile and the subtle ways she was part of our lives, every single day.  But, we know that she will live with us, in us and through us forever…

Marty, Kris, Ann, Mike, Christi, Michelle, Ben, Mark, Jake, Kim, Megan, Hannah, Scott, Alex, Spencer, Emily, Tom, Max, Winnie, Wyatt and Mabel – Nancy’s children and grandchildren


In memory of Nancy Emerson, a beloved stand-in grandmother to me, after mine passed 11 months before her.

I took this from Henry Scott Holland’s “Death is Nothing at All” which Nancy shared shortly after my grandmother passed. It is very fitting in describing Nancy because she had such a positive, yet understanding and peaceful demeanor. She joked and was serious all at the same time. She will always be missed and especially in times of joy. The lines to the sermon are below.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.

Ashley Kraus, friend

I am writing to you about my wonderful friend, Nancy  McCormick Emerson, who passed away on July 4, 2016.  She and her husband, Joe, came into my life about 5 years ago when some dear friends of ours and theirs, Shirley and DJ Morris, moved into our neighborhood.  Joe and Nancy frequently came down to visit Shirley and DJ and made sure to include us in all that they did.  We spent many beach holidays, grill nights and other fun times together.  Nancy always had a smile on her face.  I truly believe that it was because she was happy all of the time (either that, or she was up to no good!).  She was welcoming and inclusive, always making sure no one was left out.  Whenever she came down, she wanted the “lowdown” on what my children were up to;  always remembering the details of their lives and ours.  She had the ability to make all that she met feel important and worthy of her time.

The love she had for her friend, Shirley, was truly evident when Shirley was sick and passed away from breast cancer in August of 2015.  Even though she felt her own sense of loss, she was there for Shirley’s children and grandchildren, making them feel part of the family. She also included my family into hers.  I looked up to her as an aunt I never had.  I miss her terribly though I only saw her two to three times a year.  It was just comforting knowing she was there.  The last time I saw Nancy was one of our beach getaways.  She made sure to “steal” cheese doodles from DJ’s suitcase so I had something to munch on!  Nancy also had a fabulous sense of humor! She was constantly cracking jokes and making fun of all of us.  She was definitely a gem.  I will treasure the time I was blessed with spending with her.  I know she’s in a good place right now, but I certainly wish I could see that smile again!

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my love for Nancy Emerson.

Peggy Beleckas, friend

The love she had for her friend, Shirley, was truly evident when Shirley was sick and passed away from breast cancer in August of 2015.  Even though she felt her own sense  of loss, she was there for Shirley’s children and grandchildren, making them feel part of the family. She also included my family into hers.  I looked up to her as an aunt I never had.  I miss her  terribly though I only saw her two to three times a year.  It was just comforting knowing she was there.  The last time I saw Nancy was one of our beach getaways.  She made sure to “steal”  cheese doodles from DJ’s suitcase so I had something to munch on!  Nancy also had a fabulous sense of humor! She was constantly cracking jokes and making fun of all of us.  She was definitely a gem.  I will treasure the time I was blessed with spending with her.  I know she’s in a good place right now, but I certainly wish I could see that smile again!

I wanted to offer you a few words for your parish’s All Saints celebration and my words of remembrance in honor of Nancy Emerson, who was a dear and beloved friend of my grandmother’s.

Nancy lived and loved life, fully and with an open heart. She made us all feel we were family, even those that weren’t tied by blood. She, like so many of the good women I have ever known, epitomized home and family, and in everything she did, everywhere she went, everyone she encountered, she brought those two quintessential qualities: she made those around her feel like they were family and that they were home.

I hope these words can be shared in your celebration of life. She was a tremendous spirit and one I dearly miss.

Tyler Kraus, friend

My perspective of Nancy is probably different from everyone else as I am not her mother, sibling or child.  I am her friend or more importantly she is my best friend.  What initially made us friends were our common interests such as family, social activities, business, faith and love of the lake.  What made us friends forever were travelling with our spouses to all parts of the globe, laughter until our sides ached, and the ability to share the joys and sorrows of daily life.  It is true that though she was my friend I was hers and that was much more important.  Nancy was selective about her friends and although she had many she only considered a very few her close friends and being her close friend was special.  If you are on this short list she would do anything for you.  She was always there and she was always willing to share her very common sense approach to any issue and was never at a loss to have an idea.  Not a day goes by that I don’t remember a fun time, or look to her for advice, or have a story to share with her.  Sometimes I just share and know that she is there for me.

Sue Triplett, friend

Nancy was my mom’s best friend for over 50 years. We shared the same birthday, so it seemed as a young child, that every time we were together it was a party with our two families.  Over the years we kept in touch with Christmas cards and the occasional phone call but the second we were together it was as if no time had passed at all.

Nancy was the most accepting, loving and wise woman that I knew.  She was a person who ‘observed’ and with an open heart understood that the uniqueness and individuality of each of us was truly a gift from God.  She accepted all of us as we are. As a true Catholic, she never missed Mass.  She was a woman who lived what the Bible tells us… with compassion, and faith and kindness. The minute that you met her, you liked her. She loved her family – she loved good shoes – and she loved to have fun.  I believe that she was a “pioneer” for equality in every sense – and would stand up to defend her family and friends – ALWAYS.

I aspire to be like Nancy in my lifetime. She taught me so much – helping care for my mom at the end of her life – and helping me understand that we would be ok.  I am glad they are together in Heaven and know that they are watching over us- always.

With love and respect-

Kristi (Morris) Kraus, friend

Nancy Emerson, what a smile! Across a table or across the room, it would warm the heart of a stranger or friend alike. You knew at once she was real, genuine, and nice.  What beautiful Irish eyes, sparkling and devilish; full of grandmotherly kindness and concern.

How I love you!  I know you are gone, but I still can’t say “good-bye”; only “goodnight”.

Joe Emerson, husband