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Obituaries » Gladys M. Steilen

Gladys M. Steilen

March 29, 1930 - March 1, 2022

Service Date: March 8, 2022

Funeral Home Memorial Services of Iowa

Church Our Lady's Immaculate Heart Catholic Church

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Gladys Steilen, 91, passed away peacefully Tuesday, March 1, 2022 into the loving arms of her husband, Ron, who was waiting for her in Heaven.

A visitation will be held Monday, March 7, 2022, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church (OLIH) in Ankeny (510 E. 1st St.) with a prayer service at 6:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2022, also at the church, with burial to follow in the Ankeny Memorial Gardens. Masks will be available.

Gladys was born March 29, 1930, in Alexandria, South Dakota, the second of what would be three children for August and Laura (Arens) Aulner. Gladys met the love of her life, Ronald Michael Steilen, at a watering hole in Farmer, where she sat in a booth with her parents, sipping a Coke, while he admired her from his seat at the bar. After Gladys graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Mitchell and Ron returned from serving in the Army after WWII, the bubbly brunette beauty and the quiet, handsome farmer married in 1948 and enjoyed 67 years together. The young couple started their life together on a small farm, then moved to Brookings where Ron earned his engineering degree from South Dakota State University. While Ron went to school, Gladys helped raise their four kids: Jim, Bob, Deb, and Kathy (Mike came along much later).

The young family then moved to Ankeny where Ron worked as a mechanical engineer at John Deere Des Moines Works. Gladys, meanwhile, took care of the house, led Cub Scouts and Blue Birds, sewed, crocheted, bowled, read romance novels, clipped coupons, went square dancing with Ron, played cards (Euchre was her specialty), and worked at King’s Food Host. She became famous for making the world’s best roast in the cast-iron skillet she brought from the farm. Later she enjoyed spending time with her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. They, in turn, loved “Gramma’s bread”, and her orange Jell-O salad and chocolate chip cookies. She taught them to say the word “kaput” while playing cards. Gladys was also famous for sending all of her family and friends birthday and Christmas cards (even her daughter’s dogs) with handwritten letters and money for treats.

Gladys was proud to be one of the founding members of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church in Ankeny, remaining a loyal parishioner for 60-plus years. A devout Catholic, Gladys was part of Catholic Daughters, the Rosary Society, and the choir. She never missed Mass—even during the pandemic she would watch it on a computer. Sister Susan gave Gladys Communion the morning of the day she died, easing her heart and paving her way to Heaven.

Gladys is survived by her loving children, Bob (Christina) Steilen of Oceanside, CA, Debra Steilen of Des Moines, Kathy Steilen Santry of Ankeny, and Mike (Debie) Steilen of St. Joseph, MO; daughter-in-law, Carol Steilen of Plymouth, MN; 10 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; three great-great grandchildren (with three great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild on the way); in-laws, Connie Aulner, Sister Lenore Steilen, OSF, Lenore Stainbrook, and Marlys (Mickey) Schlimgen;  and dozens of nieces and nephews.

Gladys was preceded in death by her husband, Ron; her son Jim; her parents; her brothers Francis and Nick; and her son-in-law, Richard Santry.

Memorials may be directed to OLIH or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

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