Sharon Kay Modracek
Sharon Kay Modracek, 73, of rural Cedar Rapids, passed away at UnityPoint-St. Luke's Hospice Center in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2019, just in time to spend the holidays with her Savior and her parents. Her body was donated through an anatomical bequest to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. A visitation is planned for 4 to 8 p.m. Jan. 3, 2020, at First Presbyterian Church, 11100 Spanish Rd., near Ely, with a Celebration of Life and luncheon to follow there at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.
A lifelong Iowa resident, Sharon Kay Johnson was born Sept. 7, 1946, the second daughter of Ronald G. and Margaret D. (Larson) Johnson of rural Swea City. Born a "blue baby" with congenital heart septal defects, Sharon made history by being one of the first 15 to receive the new life-saving surgery made possible with the invention of the heart/lung bypass machine and performed at the Mayo Clinic in June 1956. She also was reportedly the first woman to give birth having had that surgery, doing so in February 1967.
Sharon graduated salutatorian from Swea City High School in 1964. She attended the University of Iowa intending to go into nursing when she met and fell in love with her husband, Glenn, on March 7, 1966. They were married on July 30, 1966, at First Presbyterian Church near Ely. Among other jobs, Sharon worked as the Russell Stover Candy girl at Killian's before being hired by the clerk of court's office, where she worked for 37 years. She worked her way up through the ranks, being appointed clerk of court replacing retiring Mary Roseberry on June 4, 1991. She held that position for more than 20 1/2 years until her retirement in January 2012, becoming the longest serving clerk of court in Linn County history. For 10 of those years, she also served the people of Jones County as clerk of court at Anamosa. Throughout her career, her management style and integrity earned the respect of her employees, attorneys and judges alike, as well as the Distinguished Service Award for 2011 from the Iowa Supreme Court.
About 2 1/2 years following her retirement, Sharon entered the Mayo Clinic for the heart valve replacement that could not be done 58 years earlier. The planned five-day stay, following a 100 percent successful surgery, one hour later resulted in a 33-minute Code Blue and a 75-day miraculous recovery. Following an additional 7 1/2-hour surgery, learning how to breathe and walk again after she suffered that spontaneous and resistant ventricular fibrillation and a rupture of her heart wall during CPR, she proved the many doubters wrong again. After 47 days in the ICU and 28 more in respiratory critical care, she was released to a grateful and loving family and continued her recovery at home. During her stay at St. Mary's, she earned the moniker "Tough Cookie," given her by the ECMO teams of surgeons and specialists and all of her daily caregivers and, because of that determination, she was able to welcome into the world her four great-grandchildren.
As a result of many factors including progressive osteoporosis and C.O.P.D. and when the ultimate prognosis presented itself, with her characteristic grace and concern first for others, she made the courageous decision to stop her fight against the inevitable. Her main loves included her God, her husband, her two daughters, the Thanksgiving/Christmas season shared with family, wrapping and giving gifts, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, her Leech Lake vacation home, the Green Bay Packers, making beautiful hair-pin lace afghans for relatives and friends, and an occasional Jack Daniels and sour.
Sharon was preceded in death by her parents, Ronald Graham and Margaret Dorothy (Larson) Johnson; and one infant great-granddaughter, Aubrey.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Glenn Allen; her sister, Donna Jean Johnson (Arthur) Larson of Mesa, Ariz.; two daughters, Stephanie Lynn (Todd) Parker of rural Solon and Nichelle Marie "Nikki" (Damon) Smith of Gilbert, Ariz.; six grandchildren, Benjamin (Ashley) Wieneke of Centerton, Ark., Alexandra Wieneke (Doug) Farley of Cedar Rapids, Jackson Parker and Jenna Parker of rural Solon, and Kyra Smith and Croix Smith of Gilbert, Ariz.; four great-grandchildren, Isaac Wieneke, Nora Farley, and twins, Quinn and Henry Farley; three brothers-in-law; three sisters-in-law; a host of nieces and nephews across the United States; her church family; and her third family the employees of the court system offices in Linn and Jones counties.
We will ALL miss her humor and wit, her gentle grace, her fantastic smile and her quiet strength.
As a memorial and in lieu of flowers, an endowment fund honoring Sharon's altruism is being formed under the umbrella of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to help deserving families in the Cedar Rapids area who are in need of assistance during the holidays. Tax deductible gifts should be made payable to "Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation." Memo: "Sharon's Legacy."