Eileen Exner

Honored by:Derrick Exner
Brick location:G:22  map

Eileen Smithers Exner (1917-2013)
Mother of Holly (Thompson Exner) and three other children, Derrick (Rick), Heide, and Alison

Born on an upstate New York farm, Eileen carried her strong sense of community, closeness of family, and solid Methodist upbringing into a life characterized by deep devotion to family and loving service to an ever-widening community. She graduated from Syracuse University and worked there in Extension with both young people and adults, teaching family skills, organizing clubs and camps, and, during World War II, teaching nutrition and food preservation.

Married to Max Exner and living in Ames from 1947, she was by turns 4-H leader, Campfire Girls leader, church school teacher, and an active participant in the American-Indonesian Friendship Association, her local church interfaith peace and justice groups, and the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs. In 1970, while on the YWCA Board and chair of its International Committee, she initiated, with the Church Women United International Committee, the formation of Friends of Foreign Wives, an organization dedicated to welcoming women from other countries and making their lives easier and happier during their sojourn in this country.

Eileen was selected by the Women's Political Caucus as an outstanding woman in the community, and she was recognized by the Student Affairs Human Relations Committee of ISU for service and devotion to human relations. The Exner home (enhanced by the gift of music of husband Max, in Extension Music at ISU and truly a motivator) was a haven of hospitality, delicious food, and singing for countless international students and families, with a guest book that reads like a world atlas. Eileen's energy, infectious good humor, and faith were an inspiration to her husband, her children, and her international family.

Submitted 2/14/95; updated 12/11/2013