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Edna Mary Bruno Svec
July 23, 1916 – June 29, 2013
Edna Svec died peacefully on June 29, 2013, at Green Hills Care Center, Ames, three weeks short of her 97th birthday.
Edna was a first-generation American, the only child of Italian immigrants, Ben and Mary Bruno. She was born July 23, 1916 in Morrisdale, PA where her father worked as a coal miner. When Ben took the opportunity to purchase a small grocery there, it set the course for the family’s prosperity.
The family moved to South Williamsport, PA in 1920 where Edna grew up, helping with the growing grocery business. She graduated from South Williamsport High School in 1933. That summer, she and her father sailed to Italy for a month-long visit to family members, a trip that was a highlight of her early years.
Her parents believed strongly in education. She attended what was then Pennsylvania State College from 1934-38 majoring in dietetics and institution management. She was selected for Mortarboard and was president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority her senior year. She described college as “the most exciting years of my life”.
Edna attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for a year as a dietetic intern. She then worked as a dietician in Carlisle, PA and at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Philadelphia. In 1941, she received a scholarship from Alpha Chi to colonize a chapter at Iowa State College and in 1942, started her graduate program there in Institution Management. WWII prevented establishing the sorority, but did not affect her studies.
Her goal was to teach at the college level, but she became “smitten” with Harry Svec, a chemistry graduate student she met at a dance. When he proposed marriage, she accepted. After completing her Master’s, she and Harry married in a small wartime ceremony on October 27, 1943.
She set up housekeeping with Harry in Ames, using her training and abundant skills to make a home for him and the children that started to come in 1945. Harry continued to work toward his doctorate and the family continued to grow until by 1960 it numbered nine children - five boys, four girls. Edna’s Institution Management training was put to good use running a well-organized household.
Like her mother, Edna was an accomplished cook. She combined traditional family cooking with her training to feed her large family tasty and nutritious meals. Regularly assigned chores and assistance with meal preparation produced children adept at cooking and other domestic skills. Edna loved color. She always set a pretty table, sewed and assembled attractive outfits and selected pleasing home furnishings.
She was an upbeat person, kind and pleasant to those around her. Never one to complain, she accepted the inconveniences of advancing age with grace and good humor. She relished a good joke.
An old-school note-writer, she never failed to extend her thanks and remember family and friends on special occasions. Edna loved to dance. She and Harry were members of Red Friars Dance Club for many years.
After Harry retired, the two took a number of trips to the Caribbean as well as Alaska, the southwest and Nova Scotia. Edna was able to return to Italy three times, including a pilgrimage, a trip accompanied by a daughter and granddaughter and the wedding in Rome of another granddaughter.
She was a dedicated member of St. Cecilia’s Parish starting in the 1940’s. Edna was active in the community including volunteer work at University Museums, Mary Greeley Hospital, and Youth and Shelter Services. She belonged to PEO Chapter HO and Tuesday Club.
Edna was preceded in death by her parents (1984, 1986) and husband (2006).
She is survived in 2013 by her greatest treasures - all nine of her children and their families: Mary Svec, San Diego, CA, Peter (Linda) Svec, Cumming, IA, Kathy (Dorian Stripling) Svec, Ames, Jan (Barb Klubal) Svec, Des Moines, Tom Svec, Lockhaven, PA, Jeanne (Bruce Smith) Svec, Williamsburg, PA, Ben (Amie) Svec, Ames, Dan (Joy) Svec, Des Moines, Lillian (Wayne Burdick) Svec, Belmont, CA., 18 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.
We, the nine children, wish to honor our mother and to thank her for the lessons she taught, the skills she imparted, and the values she instilled that have allowed us to become contributing members of our communities in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and California.
Mary Louise Svec Sonksen, interior designer, San Diego, CA
Peter John Svec, audio engineer, Des Moines, IA
Katherine Anne Svec, arts administrator and community activist, Ames, IA
Jan Hale Svec, architect, editor and magazine project designer, Des Moines, IA
Thomas Harry Svec, artist and furniture designer, Lockhaven, PA
Jean Marie Svec, occupational therapist, Lockhaven, PA
Benjamen Anthony Svec, small contractor and restoration specialist, Ames, IA
Daniel Christopher Svec, commercial silk-screen printer, Des Moines, IA
Lillian Elaine Svec, graphic and communications designer, San Francisco, CA
Submitted on 7/1/96; updated 11/13/2013