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Peter Harold Jaynes

Cedar Rapids

Peter Harold Jaynes, 81, died Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at the Dennis and Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy after a very aggressive attack by cancer. A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, May 7, from 5 to 8 p.m., with a service of celebration at
7 p.m. at Indian Creek Nature Center, 5300 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Peter was born in Cambridge, Mass., on March 31, 1937, the son of Herbert and Mildred (Shedd) Jaynes. He attended school in Belmont, Mass., and graduated from high school there before attending Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He received his A.B. in chemistry from Oberlin before switching to the study of history for his M.A. and Ph.D. at Boston University. His dissertation topic the impact of the railroads on the Civil War actually resulted in a lifetime hobby. Peter's professional life was spent as a college professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, and Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, from which he retired in 2001. He taught primarily American history, with two years serving as a "foreign expert" at Dalian University of Foreign Languages in Dalian, China. In this role, he discovered the joy of reaching eager learners seeking to understand American literature.
Peter was a member of the Community College Humanities Association and served on numerous committees as a faculty member over the years. He also was a recent member of the Linn County Historic Preservation Commission and secretary for the Kirkwood Retirees. During very difficult times at the Linn County Historical Society, Peter worked with two other professionals to keep the History Center open for patrons. After many years of model railroading, Peter became a Master Model Railroader (#436) by passing a rigorous set of requirements. As a member of the Eastern Iowa Division, Mid-Continent Region of the National Model Railroad Association, he earned many awards for the structures he had meticulously built for his historically accurate layout in the family room of his home. He also enjoyed many hours with the Hawkeye Model Railroad Club, based in Coralville, Iowa, and many, many operating sessions over the years.
Always with a curious mind, playful, and sometimes acerbic wit, Peter delivered great hugs and demonstrated a true gentleman's kindness throughout his life. His stories were long and involved, and he delighted in the telling. Traditions were important and carried out with pranks, steamed pudding with hard sauce and his famous mac and cheese with weinies. Some things are just too good to omit from life. Peter's many scenic photographs taken all over the world demonstrate his artist's eye and tender heart.
Those continuing to live with the gifts Peter gave are his wife, Jane Schildroth of Cedar Rapids; his son, Douglas (Jackie Skene) of Aurora, Colo.; and daughters, Susan Payne (Todd) of Mesa, Ariz., and Devon Lovell of Cedar Rapids. Seven grandchildren, Melissa, Matthew, Ashley, Victoria, Danielle, Kaitlyn and Ava, and one great-grandchild, Cassidy, will continue to hear tales of Peter's adventures. Peter also leaves behind the mother of Douglas and Susan, Joan Jaynes of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Linda Sigsby of Aventura, Fla.
Peter was predeceased by his parents and sister, Nancy Foose.
Memorials may be directed to the HACAP Food Reservoir, 1515 Hawkeye Drive, Hiawatha, IA 52233.
While the Mercy Hospice staff provided respectful care for the last two and one-half weeks of Peter's life, Van Steenhuyse-Russell Funeral Home in Vinton is caring for Peter and his family now. Condolences may be left at vsrfh.com.