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Verna Eilene Duncan Gilmore
July 29, 1923 – September 20, 2017
Verna Eilene Duncan Gilmore, 94, beloved mother, aunt, friend, dancer, card player, traveler, and hugger extraordinaire passed away on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Through her death, we celebrate Verna’s achievement of one of her greatest goals: living to a grand old age.
Verna became the daughter of James LeRoy Duncan and Bessie (Johnson) Duncan on July 29, 1923. She was born and raised on the family farm near Morley. Verna’s childhood was filled with the joy and laughter of her devoted family, including her brothers, Robert and Dean Duncan, and her sisters, Zella Richardson and Imogene Rohwedder, all of whom preceded Verna in death. She graduated from Anamosa High School in 1940.
Growing up during the Great Depression and coming of age amidst the shortages of World War II had a lasting impact on Verna. Throughout her life, she “cubbyholed” with the best of them, never wasting a thing. She was an exemplary employee at the Wilson and Co., meat packing plant in Cedar Rapids, where she happily packed pickled pigs’ feet because it was an honest day’s work. She was a believer in working hard for what you want. True to form, she was the epitome of punctuality and rarely missed a day throughout her nearly forty-year career.
During her long retirement, Verna remained vibrant and busy. She enjoyed playing cards and socializing at the Senior Center in Anamosa. She also volunteered with Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Inc. (MWDTSA) and visited working kennels in several states, always enjoying a photo opportunity with the handsome young men protecting our freedoms.
Verna was a woman of many passions, including photography, nature and dance. As a young lass, she was a regular at her favorite ballrooms, Danceland and Stanwood, where she was swept away by swing music. Verna also was an enthusiastic fan of Anamosa Blue Raiders and Iowa Hawkeye sports, but nothing was more important to her than her loved ones.
She adored her extended family and her many lifelong friends. More than anything else, she cherished time with her family over road trips and dinner tables. Upon entering any restaurant, Verna’s first question was always: “Do they have pie?” Ordering dessert first was a Verna trademark – she understood that the sweetest things in life are meant to be savored.
Verna reveled in the happiness that comes with being content, with being grateful for all you have. That spirit led her to be generous with her blessings. Everyone who met this sparkling lady with a gift for comedy was uplifted just being in her presence.
In 2009, Verna moved to Georgia to be cared for by her daughter. Many seniors struggle with a change like this, but not Verna. She always made the best of whatever hand she was dealt. In Georgia, Verna discovered a passion for the trees outside her window, joy with her new feline roommates, and love for the many friends she made along the way.
Verna’s sassy wit and giving spirit will be missed by any including her daughter Dixie (Jerry) Whitman, many generations of special nieces and nephews who knew her best as “Aunt Poke,” a nod to her childhood nickname “Pocahontas,” and her stepchildren Nancy (Ernie) Kahler, Steve (Susi) Gilmore, Jeanette (Bob) Dedrick. Fortunately, the entire family was able to visit with Verna one last time in September 2016, where they all gathered at the family farm in Iowa, a homestead that remained near and dear to Verna until the very end.
Most of Verna’s lifelong friends, family and contemporaries have gone on ahead of her. Two left to mourn are Myrna Sinkey Taylor and Muriel Duncan. The family would also like to thank Rusty and Rita Richardson and Ann Wilkerson from the bottom of our hearts for their efforts to care for Mom on many occasions and to all of her “kids” for making her last trip home so incredible meaningful.
A life celebration service was held 11 a.m. Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at the Goettsch Funeral Home, Anamosa, where friends called from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Monday. Pastor Chris May officiated at the services. Interment was in the Antioch Cemetery, Anamosa.
Verna asked that you perform an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in her name, just to make the world a better place. She reminded us to: “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” – Mark Twain.

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Source: Anamosa Journal-Eureka, Anamosa, Iowa, September 28, 2017

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