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Mary Margaret Brandes

Iowa City

Mary Margaret Brandes died March 3, 2020, at Oaknoll after a long and mostly courageous battle with neuroendocrine cancer. First diagnosed in 1999, Mary suffered a long time in ways only others with this rare condition can comprehend, but it never took away Mary's strong mind, sly humor, and endless enthusiasm for art, science, nature and politics. Mary had a strong personality. She will be dearly missed.
A gathering to celebrate Mary's life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4,
at the Studio at Oaknoll, 1 Oaknoll Pl., Iowa City. Mary deeded her body to the University of Iowa Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology for education and research purposes.
Mary was born July 22, 1932, in Waterloo Iowa, the only child of Elmer A. Brandes and Ruth M. (Tyson) Brandes. She grew up on their family farm in Mount Vernon Township. Mary attended all eight grades at Sunnyside School in Waterloo and in seventh grade was the spelling champion of Black Hawk County. She graduated from Cedar Falls High School in 1949 and received a B.A. in zoology from Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., in 1953. She treasured her college years and friendships,
Her working career included laboratory technology, residence hall counseling, middle school teaching at North Shore Day School, Evanston, Ill., and junior high science textbook editing. She moved to Iowa City in 1963 and began a 32-year career at the University of Iowa as a research assistant, first in the physiology department, then in pediatric oncology. During this time, Mary spent eight summers working at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salsbury Cove, Maine, where she made lasting friends. All who knew her know those days were among the happiest in her life.
Mary served the community as a volunteer at Iowa City Crisis Center, University of Iowa Museum of Art and Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. She leaves a lasting legacy through the donation of her family farm to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and her generosity to medical research.
Mary was predeceased by her parents; her cousin, James Brandes; and his son, Michael Brandes.
She is survived by James' widow, Mary Jane Brandes; her son, Matthew Brandes, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; cousin John (LaNell) Brandes, Denver, Iowa, and their children, Alyssa Hamlyn and Linda Brandes; and many friends and extended relations.
Memorials are suggested to MDI Biological Laboratory, Salisbury Cove, Maine, mdibl.org/support; or University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, donate.givetoiowa.org, to support neuroendocrine tumor research.
The family thanks the staff at Oaknoll and all her health care providers at UIHC for their assistance and care for Mary over the last 20 years.
Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com.
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