OBITUARY: Carol Elwood

August 20, 2021
By Staff Report

Carol Nancy Marilyn Maass Elwood, of Cedar Rapids, formerly of Cresco, Iowa passed away on Monday, August 16, 2021, at the Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy, after being diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and liver. Celebration of life services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, August 20, 2021, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, located in Cresco, Iowa. Burial will follow in Oak Lawn Cemetery. Visitation was from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 19, at Lindstrom Funeral Home, Cresco, Iowa.

Carol was born and baptized November 30, 1935 at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota, and rebaptized at Trinity Lutheran Church on February 24, 1936, by Rev. Martin Weinhold. She was in the last class to be confirmed by Rev. Walter W. Eifert at Trinity Lutheran, when it was a wooden structure at West Center Street and Third Avenue SW. She was married to Henry L. Elwood on September 22, 1962, by Pastor Walter W. Eifert at Trinity’s “new” location at Third Street and Sixth Avenue SW in Rochester. This church, an imposing cut limestone structure resembling a Spanish Mission Church with a red tile roof, was engineered by Carol’s father Fred E. Maass. Mr. Maass was the original mechanical engineer for the Mayo Clinic, being employed by the Drs. William and Charles Mayo and Dr. Henry Plummer in 1927 until his death May 30, 1955.

Carol attended Lincoln Elementary School, Kindergarten – Fourth grade; Trinity Lutheran School – Grades 5 – 8; Grades 9 – 12 at Rochester Jr. High and High School, graduating in 1954. Graduating from Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1958 with a Bachelor of Music Education Degree, Carol taught music in the Lake Shore District, St. Clair Shores, Michigan, until 1960, when, during the summer she did graduate work through the University of Michigan at Interlochen National Music Camp and returned home to Rochester, Minnesota, to teach music in the elementary schools there until 1962.

Carol met Henry at a singles club dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Rochester November 3, 1961, where Les Fields’ band was playing. Henry took her home from the dance, and the rest is history. They were married on September 22, 1962, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minnesota.

Soon after coming to Cresco, Carol was asked to teach piano to the Klingle boys, then a few Kepros kids, and then her teaching mushroomed!  In later years, she began teaching Musikgarten, which became her passion. She recalls having attended a Lutheran Women’s retreat at EWALU years ago, and the leader asking each person to dream of one thing they would like to accomplish in their lifetimes. It was her dream that everyone would be able to sing, read music, and enjoy music in their daily lives.

She credits her mother and father, sisters and brothers, for her love of music. Her family sang songs while doing the dishes, and enjoyed singing around the piano, while sister Florence played. She loved hearing her siblings, aunts and uncles sing traditional German songs during family gatherings. She also loved listening to her older sister Florence play classical music. Florence was truly an inspiration to her “kleine Schwester.”

Carol credits her parents for having given her a firm foundation in the Christian faith. Every evening, after supper, her father would read devotions and read from “The Book,” followed by The Lord’s Prayer and a Prayer of Thanks. She is especially thankful for the years spent at Lutheran School, where she had Catechism and/or Bible History every day. She felt that she gained valuable experience singing at Lutheran School, where she was assigned parts wherever she was needed the most. She recalls that Principal Mr. Zielske sometimes had the classes sing all day when preparing for a Christmas Cantata or Lent and Holy Week services.

One of the highlights of Carol’s spiritual life at Immanuel Lutheran Church (of Cresco, Iowa) was taking the Bethel Series course from Pastor Franke, taking teachers’ training from its writer Harley Swiggum in Madison, Wisconsin, and teaching the entire Old and New Testaments to members of the congregation.

Carol felt it a privilege to learn to play Immanuel’s tracker organ. She is grateful to members of Immanuel for having given her the privilege, not only to play the organ, but to learn on it, as well. She enjoyed singing and directing the choir. Joys in her life included handling music at Vacation Bible School, organizing and classifying books in the church library, along with a committee of dedicated workers. She took to reading Christian literature, like a fish takes to water. Guideposts, Plus, and Angels on Earth, were among her favorite periodicals, and numerous books by recent and past theologians.

She enjoyed serving the church through the work of the Women of the ELCA, serving as an officer locally, in the cluster, and in the synod, as well as the Iowa District, when ALC.

Carol was the youngest of 11 children, and her father loved calling her “kitzel.” She was preceded in death by her parents, Clara (Sawinski) Maass and Fred E. Maass; sisters Helen, Phyllis, Marian, Pauline, and Lorraine, and brothers David, Leonard, Richard, and Charles Maass. 

Carol is survived by her husband Henry L. Elwood of Cedar Rapids; daughters Marina (Kent) Carson of Omaha, Nebraska, Laura Elwood (Bruce Johnson) of Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Christina (Bradley) Elwood Gehrke of Solon, Iowa; grandchildren Kenton and Marissa Carson, Sean and Blake O’Donnell and Ben Johnson and Hunter, Chase and Otto Gehrke; her sister Florence (Charles) Sears of Orange, Calif.; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins.

Carol enjoyed 59 years of marriage with Henry, especially the cycles of life, even the challenge of motorcycle riding. She and Henry enjoyed their ventures and creating memories together and feel fortunate to have taken a 9,000 mile / 52-day Harley Davidson trip from Iowa to Alaska. 

She was proud of their three daughters and experienced an “empty nest syndrome” when they left home. She took an avid interest in her grandchildren, trying to be with each daughter when each grandchild was born, if she could get there in time!

Carol was active in women’s clubs, church women’s organizations, and bridge clubs. She enjoyed participation in Royal Palm Players and Grande Glee in Boca Grande, Florida.  She was a Stephen Minister, Chaplain and Hospitality Hostess of UMW in her Boca Grande church, as well as choir director, organist and pianist.

Memorials may be directed to the Elwood family and will be used to continue Carol’s interests in the community.