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Walker, Lavonne Nadine 1917-2011


Posted By: Volunteer Transcriber
Date: 3/29/2020 at 14:25:56

Lavonne Nadine Walker
MAY 11, 1917 Ė MAY 13, 2011

Obituary of Lavonne Nadine Walker
Lavonne (Simek) Walker was born May 11, 1917, in Hazelton, IA, and died May 13, 2011 in Geneva, IL, at the age of 94. She was the youngest of three children born to Joseph, a carpenter and builder, and Emma (Miguet), a nurse and homemaker. The Simek branch of Lavonneís family came to the United States from what is now the Czech Republic and originally settled in New York, NY. The Miguet family arrived from France and settled first in New Orleans, LA, and then traveled up the Mississippi River to settle in Dubuque, IA. As was the trend for many immigrants in the last decades of the 19th century, both families continued moving westward, eventually settling in Buchanan and other counties of northeast Iowa to raise their large families.

Lavonne grew up in Hazelton and graduated from Hazelton High School in 1934. She attended beauty school in Waterloo, IA, and worked in beauty parlors in Oelwein, IA and West Union, IA. In 1935, she enrolled at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, IA, and attended for two years to obtain teacherís certification. Lavonne first taught in a rural school east of Hazelton and subsequently secured a position teaching grades 1 through 3 in Swan, IA. There was a need for a teacher in the Morgan Valley rural school near Percy, IA and Lavonne accepted the call. She taught multiple grade levels at the same time in the one-room schoolhouse where she encouraged the older students to be good role models and help the younger ones with their lessons. The schoolhouse had no indoor plumbing or furnace, so, Lavonne hand-pumped well water to carry inside and, in the cooler months, kept a coal fire burning in the heating stove.

During this time, she met and was courted by a dashing and charming young man, Bennie Walker, of Swan. They were married in 1939. Lavonne continued her teaching career at Morgan Valley and eventually returned to the Swan school system to teach grades 4 through 8. Bennie and Lavonne made their home in and around Swan and started their family, ultimately moving to Pleasantville, IA, in 1963 as a result of the Red Rock Dam project. In the late 1960s, Lavonne returned to teaching and accepted a third-grade position in the Pleasantville school system. During many summers throughout her active years, Lavonne enjoyed part-time work in the livestock registration department at the Iowa State Fair.

Lavonne was an outstanding cook and baker, an exemplary homemaker, and a devoted wife and mother. Throughout her teaching career, she had a positive influence on the lives of many students and parents. She enjoyed reading, working crossword puzzles, and baking goodies for family, friends, and neighbors. Possessing a keen wit, a pragmatic sensibility, and a kind heart, Lavonne was a quiet, dignified, and reserved woman who personified all thatís good and charming about small-town life in Iowa.

After Bennieís death in 1991, she moved to an apartment in downtown Des Moines where she enjoyed shopping in the stores connected to the skywalk system. As her mobility and independence waned, Lavonne relocated to an assisted living facility in Aurora, IL, where she lived until the effects of Parkinsonís disease required her to move to an extended care facility in nearby St. Charles.

Lavonne was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Lera, her brother Len and her husband Bennie Bly Walker. Family members who will continue to celebrate and cherish her life are her daughters, Beverly (Lowell) Dunkin of Des Moines, IA, Dr. Barbara (Scott) Lebin of Geneva, IL; and her son Joseph of Braintree, MA; grandchildren, Randy Dunkin (Lisa Sanchez) of Des Moines, Kevin Dunkin of Florida, Leslie (Jim) Carter of Normal, IL, and Adam (Malaika) Lebin of Chicago, IL; great-grandchildren, Ben Dunkin of Des Moines, Jenna Dunkin of Bondurant, IA, Jeremy Dunkin of Phoenix, AZ, Casey Turner and Charley Wheeler, both of Des Moines, Ben, Sophie, and Rachael Bross, and Colton Carter, all of Normal, IL, and Krista Dunkin of CA; and great-great granddaughter, Hayden Zubulake of Des Moines.

For those choosing to remember Lavonne by giving, donations may be made to the Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinsonís Research, 17 N. First Street, Geneva, IL, 60134; the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, P.O. Box 57130, Des Moines, IA, 50317; the Webb Shadle Memorial Library, 301 W. Dallas Street, Pleasantville, IA, 50225.

A private graveside service and burial was held at the Swan Cemetery on May 16, 2011. Please visit www.mclarensresthavenchapel.com or www.dignitymemorial.com ~ The Des Moines (IA) Register, Tues 17 May 2011.


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