Polly O'Donnell was born to Forest Moore and Theresa (Bender) Moore on April 3, 1924, in Keswick, Iowa. She dies Nov. 21, 2020. Her father died tragically a few months after she was born and her mother discovered that she was unable to provide for her and brought Polly to her parents who raised her in an outstanding climate of selfless love and devotion to family and God, which she came to model in her own family.
Although raised until high school in the Armah community a couple of miles from Deep River, Iowa, she found plenty to keep her busy on the family farm. She moved with her grandparents to Marengo, where she began high school and played basketball at Marengo High School. She met Mell O'Donnell while attending high school and after high school moved to Cedar Rapids and rented a room close to St. Patrick Catholic Church and Quaker Oats, where she went to work. Soon after that, Mell, moved there too. They wed on Feb. 20, 1943, and started a family. They had nine children, six boys and three girls.
Home life always had been one of Polly's greatest joys. What the family lacked in material things was never the focal point of home. The simple chores of being a housewife and a mother were performed with the most genuine love imaginable, as if she were setting the stage for a huge production, and all acts of love signified the oneness of our family unit and the great majesty with which she served us! Everything she did was majestic! No task was too great or too small. At about 2:30 p.m. she would begin baking either a "made from scratch" chocolate cake, cherry pie or our cookie favorites. The aroma would waft through the neighborhood as we approached the front door after school.
Once home, the boys enjoyed shooting hoops, until the call for supper came. We would see a very tempting well-prepared meal as each of us filed in from outside after some after-school playtime. Mom would send them to wash up, sometimes change their shirts as they had given way to visible grass-stains and comb their hair before coming to the table which began with grace. After supper and dishes were done, we said the family rosary. Then off to the basement to wash another day's laundry and hang it on basement clotheslines to dry overnight. If it were the night of a storm sometime between bedtime and dawn, we would feel drops of holy water sprinkled on our heads during the night by our guardian angel, Our Mom!
Polly's survivors include her children, Karen Swindler, Dan O'Donnell, Angie (Tim) Casey, Pat (Kathleen) O'Donnell, Mell (Lori) O'Donnell, Tom (Cheryl) O'Donnell, Tim O'Donnell, Mike (Shelly) O'Donnell and Coleen (Tom) Stevenson; 22 grandkids; 31 great-grandkids; and seven great-great-grandkids.
Her husband, Mell; son-in-law, Les Swindler; and granddaughter, Claire Stevenson, preceded her in death
A private family funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. Friends and extended family are invited to watch the Mass via livestream. Please find the livestream link on Polly's tribute wall and share your support and memories with her family at www.stewartbaxter.com under obituaries. Private family burial will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cedar Rapids. Arrangements are with Stewart Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services, Cedar Rapids.
Donations may be directed to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Cedar Rapids.