Johanna Maria Gamez

Honored by:Robert and Paul Gamez
Brick location:C:5  map

By adding the name "Johanna Maria Gamez" to the Plaza of Heroines gracing Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, my brother Paul and I wish to publicly acknowledge in gratitude our mother for having introduced us to many of those qualities which characterize a well guided life.

Our mother was born on July 12, 1937 in the town of St. Georgen Schwarzwald (Black Forest), Germany, the eldest child of Hermann and Maria Abberger. Upon reflection, there can be little doubt that much of our mother's character took shape in her early childhood years, a period of time marked by the material deprivations and uncertainties of World War II. Brought up within the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, our mother has over the years impressed upon us the value which faith brings into every-day life. She has passed on to us the recognition that worship requires sacrifice if it is to be truly meaningful. Nothing more completely exemplifies this notion of self-sacrifice than her complete devotion to her family. Via her convictions and actions, our mother has therefore been able to convey that necessary relationship between free will and faith. She has done so by demonstrating that self-sacrifice is dependent on both God's grace as well personal commitment.

In addition to having introduced us to the Catholic faith, our mother has also demonstrated over the years a true sense of personal independence. Most notably, this quality found expression in her decision to marry an American serviceman, Ruben Z. Gamez, stationed in Heidelberg, Germany in the fall of 1963. Early in 1964, therefore, our mother took leave of her family, friends, and native country to build a new life alongside her husband, our father, in Iowa.

Her conception of independence, however, also found expression in how my brother and I were brought up. I was born in October 1964 and my brother Paul followed in July of 1966. And from the very beginning our mother and father provided a home environment in which we received the necessary freedoms leading to our own individual paths of self-determination.

Another quality which our mother has brought into our lives is her high regard for education. Although she herself had shown a great deal of academic promise, her own formal education was unfortunately cut short by the gender biased mores of the 1950s. Her love of learning, however, has never subsided. Her ongoing interest in current events is for example readily noted as she engages her family in lively discussions on diverse topics around the kitchen table. In a similar vein, she enjoys taking trips around the country, ever traveling to new sights in order to gain a fresh perspective on the natural as well as the historical features of America. In short, rather than to begrudge the denial of a formal education, our mother has chosen to pursue those available life experiences which afford her continued intellectual growth. Finally, our mother's valuation of education is gratefully acknowledged contributed directly to our own understanding that it was not whether a post-high school education was a worthwhile endeavor, but merely a question of which discipline to pursue within the post-secondary phase of an education. In consequence, Paul has earned a law degree from the University of Iowa and I recently received a Master of Science degree from Iowa State University.

No overview of our mother's unique character would be complete, however, without noting her aesthetic appreciation of the great outdoors. Carrying forward a tradition rooted in Abberger family life, one of our mother's favorite activities is to stroll or hike along a nature trail with members of her family at her side. The various nature scenes which are encountered along the way are captured for future enjoyment and retrospect by her camera. At home, too, she delights in cultivating prairie flowers in the various garden patches surrounding the family home. In such subtle yet characteristic mannerisms she has helped to instill within us an individual and continuing appreciation of the natural world.

Last, but certainly not least, we wish to acknowledge our mother's sense of humor. This trait is perhaps the hardest of her qualities to describe since literally countless moments of it come to mind. Her comedic sense usually finds expression in the form of an observation, which successfully locates the humor within any given experience which life affords. In short, her ability to stir up a chuckle or to prompt a laugh has over the years not only served to shape our own sense of humor, but more importantly, infused our memories with much happiness.

And so for all her qualities including those acknowledged here, my brother and I are proud to memorialize our mother as a heroine. In this spirit of appreciation we wish God's blessing and all the very best now and in the years to come to Johanna Maria Gamez.

Robert and Paul Gamez, June 1995

Honored by: Robert and Paul Gamez