Jo Stahlman

Honored by:Cathy Stahlman
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My mother was born in 1929 in Foley, Alabama where her parents were employed as migrant farm laborers. She grew up in the Des Moines area on a dairy farm. Her father was killed in a tractor accident when she was sixteen years old. At age eighteen she married her first husband and was divorced a few years later. She held several jobs while living in Des Moines in addition to assisting her sister and brother-in-law at their restaurant business.

In 1957 she married my father and moved to Ames. I was born a year later. My father spent long hours working at his service station and my mother took care of the property and of me. Until I was much older I thought that every mother knew how to take care of livestock, build closets, tear out old foundations, and raise a garden. Somehow she found time to teach me to cook, sew, refinish furniture, and carve wood. She shared her passion for reading with me; something we still share along with a love for Warner Brothers cartoons.

My mother has always had to work hard and when I was older she began working outside the home again. At first she worked nights so she could be home with me in the daytime. Later she began full-time work at a local grocery and has worked there for nearly twenty-five years. She helped support me in all ways throughout college at ISU and later graduate school. After my father retired his health began to fail and Mom continued to work full time and also to care for him at home. About five years ago he developed Alzheimer's disease and it was soon no longer possible for my mother to care of him alone. Two years ago he moved to a local nursing home where my mother visits him at least once every day. Jo Stahlman is the strongest woman I know. I’m proud to be her daughter.

Submitted on 3/25/94