In Memory of





Obituary for Carolyn "Kay" Dettmann (Heflin)

Kay Dettmann, 86, of Marcus, Iowa, passed on from this life on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at her home at Bavarian Meadows in Remsen, Iowa. A Celebration of Life Service will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Grace United Methodist Church in Marcus. Rev. Dr. Travis Stevick will officiate. Burial will follow at 3:00 p.m. at the Cedar Township Cemetery in Fonda, Iowa. Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday at the church.

If she were writing this herself, she would point out that her home was Marcus where she had lived for 40 years before moving to Remsen this past November. Mom had mentioned, more than once or twice, that she would write her own obituary, thank you very much, to avoid the prattling on of senseless, unnecessary information about one’s life. That didn’t happen, and we think about how Mom would say, “Well for cryin’ out loud! Just write something and be done with it. Or do whatcha want—I don’t care.” But we know, Mom, that you cared greatly about your life, how you lived it and the people who filtered in and out of your presence for almost 87 years. So, we choose to use many words to explain who you were to us.

Mom was born on April 24, 1936, on the family farm in Williams Township, Calhoun County north of Lytton. And yes, she was delivered by Dr. “Doc” Blair just as was the majority of her generation in the area. She was the middle daughter of Charles and Grace (Swink) Heflin; Peggy born two years prior and Glenda a few years later. The story is told that sister Peggy could not pronounce “Carolyn” so from then on, Mom carried the name of Kay for the rest of her life. Growing up on the farm without brothers meant that Mom and Peggy became quite adept with driving a tractor and milking cows along with other chores, inside and out. They were members of the Lytton Presbyterian Church and Mom and Peggy attended country school close by the farm until the area township schools consolidated with Lytton in time for Mom to start her fourth-grade year at what became the Lytton Community School where she graduated high school with the Class of ’53. Mom loved to tell stories of her school activities and classmates, staying in contact with many, not to mention some who also stayed in the Lytton area raising their children along with us.

Soon after graduation, Mom attended the American Institute of Business (AIB) to train as a court reporter. About the same time, Mom became engaged to marry our Dad, Ronald Dettmann, and Mom later shared that she then realized that the possibility of raising a family would not mix well with the scheduling and traveling of circuit court judges, so she left AIB and returned to Lytton to marry Dad on February 14, 1954, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sac City. Their first home was in Lytton while Mom worked as a secretary at the school. By that fall, Charlie and Grace left the life of farming and handed it off to Mom and Dad who took over and extended that heritage into the fifth generation by raising their own family of six children: Pamela, Curtis, Scott, Kari, Crista and Amanda. We grew up in the same house in which our Gramma Grace was born and at the time, we couldn’t appreciate the great sense of security that came with that.

Six children means six very different perspectives, each with our own set of special memories and stories that we hold close in our hearts. There wasn’t much that Mom couldn’t do and it showed in her everyday life at home on the farm where she was busy recreating her family home and refereeing a noisy household. She still found time to do her own things and had such talent for making beautiful things: Christmas ornaments, learning new crochet patterns for afghans, sewing matching Easter or Christmas dresses for the sisters, cooking fabulous foods, the huge gardens for all the freezing and canning to feed us through the winter. picking and selling her own strawberries, butchering and selling chickens. Family birthday celebrations and holidays were special occasions with favorite foods, music and rituals of decorating the house. This included the annual race of unwrapping of the nativity figures to see who could reach baby Jesus first. We also took turns picking up Baby Jesus to kiss goodnight before going to bed. As a result, Jesus was glued together a few times over the years.

As we grew older, she taught us how to do every imaginable housekeeping skill, chauffeured us from one school or church activity to another, and attended our concerts and home ballgames. This was not an easy task during a few years of basketball season when there was one of each playing high school varsity, JV and both girls and boys Jr. High basketball during many weeks of the season. If asked whether our mom was at the ballgame, we could just point to the woman in the bleachers with a crocheting project in her lap, likely to help keep her nerves in check. The weeks were rounded out with church nights of choir rehearsals, women’s circle groups and finding time during the week to prepare as a church organist at Emanuel St. John Lutheran Church in Lytton. We also remember the school music contests when Mom accompanied a majority of the instrumental soloists with many of them coming to our house to rehearse and it was a thrill for her to see them succeed.

Mom’s first full time job was, of course, taking care of us at home. Soon after Amy, the youngest, was in kindergarten, she started working at Lytton Farmers Co-op. In 1982, she and Amy moved to Marcus where she took an office position with the Bindner family fertilizer business. She was later hired by Tom and John Dorr at Pine Grove Farms where she worked until 1990 when John Wibe hired her to be his legal secretary in the Marcus office of Wibe & Cozine. While working there, she went back to school through distance learning to become certified as a paralegal and continued to work with John until her retirement.

Mom also passed on her gift of music as a teacher of organ and piano. She taught and fostered many students starting in Lytton and continued for almost 30 years in Marcus. The heavy schedule of ball games, concerts and music lessons continued through Amy’s high school years and into Amy’s athletic activities at BV University. Mom also left her fingerprints on the many organizations where she volunteered and really enjoyed spending her time supporting the Marcus community with her many friends.

In later years, Mom continued a very busy life doing what she loved: reading, cooking, collecting cookbooks and recipes, writing Bible devotions and leading Bible studies, playing for many church worships, weddings, accompanying choirs, attending live theater and concert series, garden designing, entertaining, playing cards, and staying in touch with family and friends. All of it reminds us how much she tried to squeeze into each day. Though she would often sigh and comment that she just couldn’t seem to get everything done, she lived life on her own terms, doing what brought her joy.

Above all those things, Mom’s greatest joy was music, especially playing her piano. It was the one constant piece of “furniture” that she brought into every home she had; the same one that she played while growing up and it became a big part of our daily life, while listening to her play. One of her saddest days was when she released her piano to her granddaughters, knowing that she couldn’t take it with her one more time to her last home in Remsen. Moving on while letting go takes courage and Mom demonstrated such courage then and as she took the steps to first move to Bavarian Meadows, sell her condo and then gradually let go of so many things that had become a part of her over the years.

So, dear Mom, perhaps you would read this and think, “Well, for cryin’ out loud… you didn’t have to go on and on …” but there are no boundaries for our memories and reflections on lessons learned from you. Hopefully, you knew that everything you were and all that you have passed on to us made a difference … for that, we will always be grateful.

Mom is survived by her six children: Pam Dettmann (John Dotson) of Olivia, MN; Curt (Barb) of Rockwell City; Scott (Sonya) of Johnston, Kari (Brian) Lantz of Lytton, Crista (Jeff) Ashcraft of Eldridge; and Amanda Dettmann (Julia Johansen) of Ovieda, FL; fourteen grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren; brothers-in-law Paul (Jennifer) Dettmann of Chillicothe, MO; and Don Dettmann, Lake Ozark, MO.

She was preceded in death by her children’s father, Ronald Dettmann, her parents, Charlie and Grace Heflin; her sisters and their husbands, Peggy and Eugene Wright; Glenda and Frank Noble and many dearly missed cousins and friends.

Memorials may be directed to MMC Foundation, PO Box 412, Marcus, Iowa 51035