Kathleen L. "Kay" Walenta
Kathleen L. "Kay" Walenta, treasured daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, surrounded by her family. Visitation will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, Iowa City. A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at the funeral home. Burial will be at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Iowa City.
In lieu of flowers, please honor Kay's commitment to personal and local history with contributions to the Johnson County Historical Society, 860 Quarry Rd., Coralville, IA 52241.
Kay was born May 29, 1932, to Earl and Bessie Campion in Solon, Iowa. She grew up on her parents' farm with her five brothers and one sister in the Sugar Bottom area on land now occupied by the Coralville Reservoir. She attended the one-room schoolhouse through Eighth grade and graduated from Solon High School with 14 classmates in 1950.
The Campions enjoyed attending dances at Lange's Barn in Lisbon and it was here that she met the love of her life, John Walenta, a recent graduate of West Branch High. They married Sept. 1, 1951, at St. Bernadette's in West Branch. Together, they raised their five children in their home on Spruce Court in Iowa City, where they made many lifelong friends and many, many happy memories. Kay's professional life included working as human resources director at Kmart, park ranger at Lake MacBride and legal secretary with the City of Iowa City Police and Legal Departments. She also was an enthusiastic and fun-loving leader of several of her daughters' Girl Scout troops.
Because family was extraordinarily important to Kay, she worked tirelessly to trace her family genealogy back through many centuries. Her Irish heritage was an especially important source of genuine happiness and deep pride and she was a longstanding member of the County Johnson Irish. Kay fulfilled a lifelong dream when she travelled to Ireland in 1985.
Traveling around the United States, Kay and John loved to camp and they made friends everywhere. After retirement, they spent winters at Alamo Palms, Texas. There, they frequently traveled to Mexico and also enjoyed playing cards, bike rides, shuffleboard tournaments, parties and dances. Kay loved to gamble and the luck of the Irish went with her since she often won.
Kay had a lively sense of humor and a rare gift for storytelling. She loved to talk and never was without a comeback. She was blessed with a razor-sharp wit and a gift for vivid and colorful self-expression -- to put it mildly. Her ability to maintain and express her strongly felt opinions was more than balanced by a remarkable and bottomless fund of caring for friends, neighbors and family.
Whatever Kay did, she did with enthusiasm, fearlessness and gusto. There was no adventure that she wouldn't meet head on. When she met an obstacle, she leapt it; when her beloved husband died too soon in 1999, she bought an RV and drove herself back and forth to Texas. When she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, she learned how to box. And she bravely fought every bout until she gracefully conceded the final round.
Kay's indomitable spirit will live forever. She will be deeply missed by children, Pati of Iowa City, Theresa of Coralville, Virginia of Kansas City, Robin (Tracy Stuhr) of Solon and Michael (Shannon) of Omaha; granddaughters, Katie Walenta of New York City and Sophie Walenta of Miami; great-granddaughter, Olivia Welch of Kansas City; her presence and her stories will be sorely missed by her surviving brothers, Lee (Cathy) Campion and "Dude" (Linda) Campion of Hills; and her sister, Cheryl Campion ("Bear" Binggeli) of Iowa City.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers, Jim, Bill and Richard Campion; and grandsons, Benjamin and Duffey Welch.
The family would like to extend special thanks and their warm appreciation to the caring staff of the Solon Care Center.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.lensingfuneral.com.