Edythe May Slater Barnes, 93, passed away on Saturday, February 18, in her daughter's home in Keokuk, Iowa.
Edythe May Slater was born at home on Saturday, April 28, 1923, to Iva Margaretha (Ball) and Walter Albert Slater in New Boston, Iowa. She was the fourth of ten children and grew up on the farm which had been in the Slater family for more than a century. Edythe attended a one room country school in New Boston for eight years and graduated from Donnellson High School in 1941.
Her first job was at the Donnellson Farm Bureau. In 1943, she left home and moved to Keokuk where she worked in the office at Electro Metals Company for four years. She shared so many stories of her days during World War II with her family. Edythe was a very social person who loved to dance and spend time with friends. Her co-workers and friends affectionately nicknamed her Etta Kett, a "cutie" comic strip character created by Paul Robinson.
At a dance on April 27, 1946, the night before her 23rd birthday, Edythe met the love of her life, Delbert Francis Barnes. They were married five months later and enjoyed a lifelong love story that lasted 70 years. Edythe retired from Thomas Truck and Caster Company to become a stay at home mother in 1950. Motherhood brought her great joy and her devotion to her daughters was her biggest priority.
Great tragedy came to her life on November 25, 1965. Six of her family members were attending a Thanksgiving Eve square dance at the Keokuk National Guard Armory when an explosion occurred. Twenty-one people died within a month. Three of those victims were a part of her family: her sister, Violet and husband, Raymond Beckett, and her sister Ruth Ina Anderson. Her sister, Ruby and husband, John Foley, and brother-in-law, Robert Anderson, were badly injured and recovered after long convalescences. On Thanksgiving Day, Pam and Jill Anderson were welcomed into her heart and home until their father returned from the San Antonio, Texas burn center the following Spring. Edythe also extended her love and care to every one of her nieces and nephews whose parents were in the Armory Explosion. That Christmas, she made sure that each one had presents delivered on Christmas Eve. Edythe was truly a remarkable woman.
Becoming a grandparent was one of her greatest joys. She was fifty-seven when her first grandchild was born and sixty-seven when the last one arrived, but age did not stop her. She was fun! They loved to spend the night with their Grandma. She always gave them her undivided attention. She played games, read books, cooked their favorite foods, and shared her life stories with them. She loved her four grandchildren dearly and had a special relationship with each one of them.
Edythe and Delbert enjoyed their nearly thirty years of retirement together and traveled throughout the United States in their motorhome. To celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary, she and Delbert spent three weeks in Hawaii and on their fiftieth anniversary, they cruised through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. In February 2008, thirty-five years after their last family vacation, Delbert, Edythe and their daughters embarked on their final family vacation spending three weeks in Australia and New Zealand.
Edythe will be remembered for the unconditional love that she shared with everyone that she met. Her infectious laughter or "giggle" will be a part of us forever. Her life was a beautiful example of kindness, selflessness and love.
Edythe passed away on Delbert's birthday, Saturday, February 18, 2017, in her daughter's home at the age of 93. She survived seven months and three days after Delbert's death, all the while missing him terribly. She will be deeply mourned and lovingly remembered by her daughters, Debbie and her husband Tom Marion of Keokuk, IA; Bonnie and her husband Tom Odegaard of Issaquah, WA; her four grandchildren, Jennifer Marion of Keokuk; John and his wife Jenna Marion of Urbandale, IA; Megan Odegaard of Grand Rapids, MI; and Mackenzie Odegaard of Issaquah, WA. She will be greatly missed by her two surviving sisters, Garnett Swanson and her husband Harold, of Burlington, IA; and Rosalee Coghlan of Cedar Rapids, IA; her brother Marvin Slater and his wife Betty Lou of Keokuk, IA; along with many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; sisters Violet Beckett, Elberta Lang, Ruby Foley and Ruth Ina Anderson; and brothers Vinton and Walter Slater.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:00 AM, on Friday, April 28, 2017 at DeJong~Greaves Celebration of Life Center at 917 Blondeau Street in Keokuk with her niece, Reverend Sherri Swanson, presiding.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Keokuk Area Community Foundation, Delbert and Edythe Barnes Scholarship to Southeastern Community College's Industrial Technologies Training Center, or the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation.
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