Carla Offenburger got big things done in life. Here are her obituary & final instructions for us.

COOPER, Iowa, July 27, 2021 — Carla Offenburger, an MVP kind of Iowa citizen from rural Cooper in Greene County, died at home on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at the age of 62 after a 12-year-long “dance with cancer,” as she often described it.

She gave the incurable adenoid cystic carcinoma a real challenge, one that hopefully will help ACC patients and medical personnel in the future.

Carla was a native of Des Moines, born on Jan. 14, 1959, to Carl W. and Wilma Sue Burt. She graduated from Des Moines Lincoln High School, in business from Simpson College, and earned a master’s degree in literature from Iowa State University.  She taught for 10 years at Iowa State, Simpson, Buena Vista University and Upper Iowa University.  She was a tough, effective mentor for dozens of her students and other young people.  But her favorite teaching experience was probably showing her three granddaughters how to prepare fancy meals and bake excellent pies.

Carla & girls & Andreas painting July 4 B.jpg

Carla Offenburger with granddaughters (from the left) Audrey, Casey and Lindsay Offenburger, of Oxford, Ohio. They’re holding a special poem and drawing about saying goodbye, by Iowa artist Brian Andreas. It was Carla’s farewell gift to the girls.

She was blessed with a talent for organizing and “people skills” that enabled her to get big things done. 

Carla directed the “Iowa 150 Bike Ride/A Sesquicentennial Expedition” by 308 people across America in 1995; a “blitz build” of a Habitat for Humanity house in Des Moines by members of her Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, and a concert tour of Iowa by opera great Simon Estes.  She organized several large business & development events, a couple of large quilt shows, and she was a key organizer of five unforgettable “Cooper Proms” for adults, who packed the old gym in her tiny community for banquets and dancing to a big band. 

An avid bicyclist and advocate for recreational trails, she served as president of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association. And she was twice elected as clerk of the Franklin Township Board of Trustees.  Township clerks generally oversee the rural cemeteries in Iowa, and her last transaction as an elected official was to sell herself her burial plot.

In 2010, she was awarded the “Above & Beyond the Call” award of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce, and in 2018 the Greene County Community “Impact Award.” 

Carla read at least a book a week for more than 30 years.  She wrote widely-followed columns on the Internet site for over 20 years. She became an “insecure quilter,” then a good one, and since 2015 made 25 personalized quilts for women in her life. She was an avid fan of Vanderbilt University baseball, and in the past year carried on an inspiring correspondence with the “VandyBoys” coach Tim Corbin. And, oh did she love her flower gardens – all eight of them around her farmhouse.

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The Offenburgers dressed up for Easter this past spring.

Survivors include her husband Chuck Offenburger, of Cooper; son Andrew (Maria) Offenburger and granddaughters Lindsay, Casey and Audrey of Oxford, OH; daughter Janae Jaynes-Learned, of Scottsdale, AZ, and grandson Connor Jaynes, of Denver, CO; sister Tammie (John) Amsbaugh, of Des Moines, niece Carrie (Scott) Shippy, of Savannah GA, and nephew John (Jenny) Amsbaugh, of Pleasant Hill, IA; sister Chris (Tony) Woods, niece Perri (Jarell) Wheaton and nephew Harrison Woods, all of Des Moines; an aunt Karen (Dave) Wiles and cousin Steff (Chris) Wiles-Jeffrey, both of the Des Moines area; several great-nieces and great-nephews; other distant relatives, and many friends.

Preceding her in death were her parents and Bolekwa Sifo, an exchange student from South Africa who became part of the family.

Carla’s visitation will be Thursday, July 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home in Jefferson. Her funeral will be Friday, July 30, at 10:30 a.m. at Plymouth Church in Des Moines, with lunch following at noon. Interment of her cremains will be Saturday, July 31, at 11 a.m. at Franklin Township Cemetery just north of Cooper.

Memorials can be made to Plymouth Church, 4126 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines 50312, “designated first for new friendship information pads for each pew.”

Carla also left this additional, specific instruction for the gathering Friday:

“Finally, I’d like a church potluck to follow my funeral service – to include a few pans of my sister Chris’ homemade lasagna and my favorite chocolate wacky cake.  I’d like my sister Tammie’s pickle roll-ups.  The Offenburger women should be bringing homemade pies.  Everyone attending the lunch should be invited to bring a favorite dish to be shared at a festive, fun and happy event. I’d prefer no tuna dishes!  This invitation should be in my obituary.”

Carla holding cross B July 22 2021.jpg

Carla Offenburger held this “clinging cross” for the last 18 hours of her life. And she left this world with nice fingernails, done over the July 4th weekend by her granddaughter Lindsay Offenburger.

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27 thoughts on “Carla Offenburger got big things done in life. Here are her obituary & final instructions for us.

  1. My condolences, Chuck. She was an amazing women leaving a great legacy. The world was blessed with her presence.

    Dick Stoffer

  2. How lovely! You all be joyful at the potluck. Celebrate Carla and a life well-lived. ❤️ Hugs all around.

    Bill Crews and Steve Kehoe, Washington DC

  3. Carla changed so many lives for the better, most notably Chuck Offenburger’s. May her memory be a blessing.

    Arnie and Shelly Henden, Arizona

  4. Dear Chuck, I am so sorry that she is now gone, and so glad and grateful that she died at home, surrounded by the love of so many friends and family – mostly with you there, the one who loved her most of all. Her fight for life was so long and so courageous, an inspiration to all of us. I am 86 years old now, and at my age, death becomes just a part of life. So many friends and family members have died before me, including my youngest son, Dan Petersen. It just so happens that I am in Des Moines now. I came for the Des Moines Metro Opera weekend, and to visit briefly friends and family members. I leave here on Friday, but you can bet I will attend Carla’s Celebration of Life Service, at Plymouth Church, before I go. My heart goes out to you, Chuck, I know you are in deep grief right now.

    Pat Kobe, Texas

  5. Thomas and I have been praying for you all. She was an amazing lady, and I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to know her better. What a blessing she was to those who knew her, and to the communities of which she was a part.

    Susan Laehn, Jefferson IA

  6. Oh, Carla. Thank you for your final instructions. I will bring a dish on Friday and it will not have any tuna in it. Reading your obituary, I learned a few new things, such as you being behind the Simon Estes tour. You certainly wrung the most out of the years you had, and showed us how to involve family and friends in saying good-bye.

  7. Carla made the world a better place just by her being in it. Who she was and what she did for others set a high example for how to live one’s life. What an incredible lady. She will be sorely missed.

  8. Carla had more intention than anyone I ever met. Her execution of that intention was a pleasure to behold. I marveled at the sheer number of things she got done both before and after her cancer diagnosis. Her contributions to the world around her are lasting and will be remembered. She set the bar high and showed so many of us the impact of a single person striving for good.

  9. So sorry for your loss. She was quite a woman! And ironic she passed around RAGBRAI ❤️ Take care!

    Marcia Tasler, Churdan IA

  10. Chuck, so sorry to read Carla’s obituary in the Des Moines Register today. Lynn (Hicks, so of the letter writers and a good friend of Chuck and Carla) often mentioned Carla’s tremendous courage and how both of you lived life to the fullest and were committed to making a positive impact on society. I have fond memories of your days in southwest Iowa and I always looked forward to your column in the Register. May God bless you and your family.

    Don and Linda Hicks, Stanton IA

  11. Wishing you peace to bring comfort and the courage to face the days ahead, and loving memories of Carla to forever hold in your heart.

  12. The Bones are sad over Carla’s passing. But through your words and hers, we feel we got to know her and are in awe of her life well-lived. Words matter. We especially endorse Carla’s preference for no tuna dishes at the potluck. Condolences to all.

    Bill and Nan Bone

  13. Chuck, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s a miracle to find that person who is perfect for you, and so hard when they must leave. I know she’ll never be far from you, and I hope that brings you comfort and strength.

    Deborah Brewington, Nashville TN

  14. Chuck, Andrew and family,

    We are so sorry to learn of Carla’s passing. She fought a valiant battle and her life made such a difference in the human condition. God bless you.

    Fred and Susan Moore, Florida, formerly Buena Vista University in Storm Lake IA

  15. Molly and I are heartbroken for the loss we have all sustained but love thinking about her trials are over and she swells with her parents and friends who live on that other shore of more light. Thank you Chuck for your heroic care of her, and thank you Carla for giving wholeness to Chuck.

    Douglas T. Bates III, Centerville TN

  16. I’m not sure if “fan” of your husband is the correct term, but I have followed him even as I lived for 20 years in Colorado having moved back to my home state (4th generation) from southeast Iowa. As I approach what some call, ”the autumn of life,” I find myself wondering what, if any, contribution I have made to the greater good, and after reading the notice of your death I worry less, knowing you have paved the way for me and others like me. Thank you, ma’am. May you know that indeed, the good you did does indeed live after you. I take heart in knowing that you never let the “bastards get you down” and you give me hope for my future and that of your granddaughters.

    Rob Fiedler, Colorado

  17. I think it was five years ago that we (Mary and me) spent a day (with the Offenburgers) at the Iowa State Fair. A day of eating, chatting with dozens of people, a chili judging contest, lots of stories, discovery of quilts and ice cream. And of course more stories. Carla the constant and consummate companion kept us focused on discovering the wonders of Iowa. One of the more memorable days of our lives, that we re-visit from time to time with mentions of the butter cow, or the corn dogs, or the cinnamon rolls, or the farm equipment displays. A long day, but filled with wholesome, interesting fun. We wish we could be there, but the distance and commitments prevent it. So Mary will bake a pecan pie as we remember fond times.

    Rev. Art Seaman, Kittanning, PA

  18. Chuck, my former student, I send my heart’s feelings for you and your loved ones and my best wishes for the future.

    K.C. Potter, Hickman County TN

  19. Thinking of you and your family, Chuck. Carla touched many lives and leaves a wonderful legacy. Peace and comfort to all of you.

    Brenda and Bob Weeter, Johnston IA

  20. Praying for you Chuck. I only met Carla a few times but I followed you and her online faithfully. I got so many ideas of what I would like to do with friends, family, and loved ones from her columns. She was a wonderful woman.

  21. Chuck, I just found out about Carla’s passing. Words always fail but condolences from Jean and me. My best friend from childhood died August 30 after battling cancer for 7 years. In some ways it must be a relief with the loved one out of pain but a loss of wonderful companions and friends is hard. Four of my high school class of 1965 have passed this year. We’re all 74 — well, I turn 74 Oct. 12. You know that many will remember Carla because of your writings and that is an honor you bestowed on her. My best to you.

    Cary J. Hahn, Cedar Rapids

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